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Face of Defense: Battle Manager Moves to Head of Class

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Air Force Capt. Brandon Rieker of the Georgia Air National Guard is moving to the head of the class.

The 31-year-old air battle manager with the 116th Air Control Wing is one of six in his career field across the Air Force to be selected for the elite U.S. Air Force Weapons School Weapons Instructor Course that starts in February at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

The course trains students to be tactical experts in their combat specialty while learning the art of battle-space dominance. Students receive an average of 400 classroom hours of graduate-level academics and participate in demanding combat training missions.

Experience Secured Nomination

Airmanship shown in operations Odyssey Dawn and Unified Protector identified Rieker as a candidate for the school, said Air Force Maj. Jason Scott, the wing’s deputy for plans and programs.

“He displayed an ability to manage a complex air campaign and a willingness to learn,” he said. “His ability, coupled with his personal example and credibility amongst his peers, secured his nomination.”

Following in his father’s footsteps, Rieker enlisted into the Georgia Air Guard in 2005 as a network administrator with the 116th Communications Squadron. He was commissioned in 2009 and retrained to be an air battle manager. After his nine months in technical school at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, he returned to the 330th Combat Training Squadron here to complete his training, and he began working in the 128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron’s weapons and tactics shop.

Air Force Instructor

Rieker instructs air battle managers in both the 116th and 461st Air Control wings. He teaches the techniques of speaking to aircraft and using the systems on the Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System aircraft, known as JSTARS.

He has been deployed multiple times to operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Unified Protector. “Those experiences of controlling multiple aircraft in a very dense airspace put me in the right spot to bring realism to the instruction back here at Robins,” Rieker said.

By attending the Weapons Instructor Course, the captain said, he not only will become a subject matter expert for the JSTARS and the air battle manager community, but also will be learning how to integrate the JSTARS into other weapon systems in the Air Force and the joint environment.

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