Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth expanding Non-Kinetic Operations Coordination Course offerings

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  • By 55th Wing Public Affairs

Due to the success of its Non-Kinetic Operations Coordination Course, the 55th Wing is expanding its availability and developing additional offerings as one of the Air Force’s leaders in NKO.

The NKOCC, which began in 2013, provides joint, tactical experts with the operational knowledge, training and skills to lead, plan and execute non-kinetic and information warfare operations across the spectrum of conflict.

“The course was originally created as a way to synchronize non-kinetic effects between airborne and ground-based platforms…and to train CROWs, the airborne extension of an Air Operations Center’s Non-Kinetic Duty Officer,” said Maj. Jimmy Maday, 55th Wing Weapons and Tactics.

The 55th Wing’s unique mission set makes it a perfect place to train Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Guardians and Marines to build and brief non-kinetic plans in support of commander objectives.

“Our effort started because electromagnetic warfare officers tend to excel in mission time management during an operation, given our unique training,” said Capt. Chris Cole, 55th Operations Group Weapons and Tactics. “And the RC-135V/W Rivet Joint and EC-130H Compass Call are specially equipped to handle this extra responsibility.”

Originally offered only twice a year by 55th Wing weapons officers, the course was expanded in 2020 due to its popularity and now takes place six times a year for more than 150 students.

“Even with this increase, our applicant pool is larger than the number of students we can train,” Maday said.

Over the past few years, the course attendee list has grown to include command and control, electronic warfare, cyber, space, intelligence and information operations specialists.

“Students should round out a full AOC Non-Kinetics team,” Maday said. “This includes the CROW, NKDO, airborne electromagnetic warfare, operators from ground-based platforms like space and cyber, and all support functions within the AOC such as weather, information operations and intelligence.” 

“We’ve also expanded into some fighter, bomber and air battle managers because EW is increasingly pervasive across the more offensive weapons systems,” Cole said. “For example, a multi-role fighter can either conduct EW or require supporting EW to accomplish its mission.”

This month, the NKOCC will open its doors for the first time to train military members from the United Kingdom and Australia. The goal of adding coalition partners to the mix is to pave a path forward for coalition integration in the information domain and electromagnetic spectrum.

“The U.S. has an intelligence alliance, commonly called the Five Eyes Coalition, with the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand,” Maday said. “At AOCs around the world, we operate in a coalition environment every day.”

“By adding Five Eyes students to the NKOCC, we are bringing 55th Wing training in line with existing national security strategy and training students to engage with coalition warfighters,” Cole said.

In addition to opening up eligibility, the 55th Wing is also looking to develop an airborne non-kinetic duty officer. Essentially, the role of this individual would be to serve as an IW leader and expert capable of executing at the forward edge of the fight from air component assets.

“Several U.S. Air Force, Royal Air Force and U.S. Navy platforms have individuals qualified to execute CROW responsibilities onboard,” said Maday. “While the past and current iterations of the course have always targeted a CROW in the class, the future class will be more advanced for these warfighters with hands-on simulator training.”

The NKOCC team is also developing a Non-Kinetic Fundamentals Course that will train entry level troops to understand and contribute to non-kinetic missions.

“We identified early in the NKOCC that without a certain baseline knowledge, some of our training tasks would fall on deaf ears, so to speak,” Maday said. “Rather than screen out entry-level candidates, we decided it would be better to train those troops to give them the knowledge they need to succeed in NKOCC and AOCs around the globe.”

Overall, the feedback received by the 55th Wing from those who attended the class as well as at Air Combat Command and beyond has been positive. In fact, ACC is so impressed they are exploring adding the course to pre-deployment training for all non-kinetic operators deploying to worldwide Air and Space Operations Centers.

“The most satisfying feeling is knowing that we are in line with the Department of Defense’s Electromagnetic Superiority Strategy 2020 and the Air Force Chief of Staff’s Accelerate Change or Lose strategy,” Cole said.