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Squadron of the Week: 337th Air Control Squadron

First Lt. Colby Ray, 337th Air Control Squadron air battle manager student, practices his skills at the 337th ACS building, Jan. 15. With a demanding 9-month course, ABM students are rigorously tested with academic work and long, challenging days. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen/Released)

First Lt. Colby Ray, 337th Air Control Squadron air battle manager student, practices his skills at the 337th ACS building, Jan. 15. With a demanding 9-month course, ABM students are rigorously tested with academic work and long, challenging days. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen/Released)

Technical Sgt. Jonathon Dennis, 337th Air Control Squadron instructor weapons director, instructs two students of the Air Battle Manager undergraduate course at the 337th ACS, Jan. 15. Dennis is responsible for instructing ABMs on a variety of missions to facilitate the Air Education and Training Command syllabus; some of these missions include simulated air to ground, large force employment simulations as well as live mission scenarios.  Ultimately, teaching the students to prioritize weapons, sensors and fuel, to meet the commander’s intent and acceptable level of risk. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen/Released)

Technical Sgt. Jonathon Dennis, 337th Air Control Squadron instructor weapons director, instructs two students of the Air Battle Manager undergraduate course at the 337th ACS, Jan. 15. Dennis is responsible for instructing ABMs on a variety of missions to facilitate the Air Education and Training Command syllabus; some of these missions include simulated air to ground, large force employment simulations as well as live mission scenarios. Ultimately, teaching the students to prioritize weapons, sensors and fuel, to meet the commander’s intent and acceptable level of risk. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen/Released)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - -- In the warfighting environment, all of the pieces on the battlefield must come together in order to accomplish the mission. The Airmen who help guide these pieces into place are the air battle managers.

The 337th Air Control Squadron,  the squadron that trains these warfighters, is our squadron of the week. Preparing these undergraduate ABMs for wartime is a mission the 337th ACS takes seriously. With a demanding 9-month course, ABM students are rigorously tested with academic work and long, challenging days.

"We are the formal training unit for all of America's total force air battle managers," said Lt. Col. Michael Hagan, 337th ACS commander. "Within a challenging 170 training day course, we produce world-class graduates."

In December 1947, Headquarters U.S. Air Force established the 325th Weapons Controller Training Squadron.  The squadron was responsible for the aircraft controller's course at Tyndall.

Between 1947 and 2001 the squadron went through several name changes and eventually settled as the 325th Air Control Squadron.  The mission at the 325th ACS was to teach command and control and radar operations to personnel of all ranks.  It evolved into a comprehensive program instructing command and control to American and international officers impacting air campaigns around the world.

In October 2012 the 325th FW transferred from Air Education and Training Command to Air Combat Command.  At that time the 325th ACS was designated the 337 ACS and remained in AETC as a geographically separated unit of the 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

"Irrespective of MAJCOM patch, we aspire to remain a dedicated member of Team Tyndall," Hagan said. "Our missions are solidly integrated, and we truly appreciate the constant support from Team Tyndall to our Airmen and families."

Undergraduates at the 337th ACS must learn a diverse set of skills allowing them to direct airborne assets across a widespread range of combat operations.
"As ABMs we synchronize weapon sensors and fuel in accordance with the commander's intent and acceptable levels of risk," Hagan said. "In a general sense, we create order out of chaos.

"The men and women of the ACS will instruct over 130 U.S. and international students this fiscal year.  In order to meet the needs of the combat air forces, that number is expected to increase in upcoming years," Hagan said.

In order to increase world-wide efficiency and reinforce working relationships, the squadron also brings in international students.

"We train approximately 35 international students per year from a diverse pool of 64 nations. We instruct two courses for our international partners; the International Air Weapons Controller Course and the Theater Air Operations Course," Hagan said. "As a nation, we rarely do anything alone, so these relationships are strategically valuable.

"These courses facilitate mutual understanding among U.S. and international operators," he continued. "This partnership is strategically beneficial in terms of fostering relationships and common understanding when working together in an uncertain world."

Hagan has more than 16 years of experience being an ABM, so his experience helps push the squadron to new heights.

"It seems like yesterday I walked through these doors myself -- and so much has changed since I came through as a student," Hagan recalled. "The syllabus has been refined dramatically; the context of the world has changed immensely. It's a very difficult course, and it has to be in order to produce a world-class graduate that can perform the functions of an ABM."