Murphy's Law: CSOs Master the World


August 8, 2007: Sixty years ago, heavy bombers had several officers in the crew, in addition to the pilot and co-pilot. There was a navigator and a bombardier. Both of those jobs have since been largely automated out of existence. By the 1960s, a new job, EWO (Electronic Warfare Officer) had been added, but even that task was eventually automated (but not eliminated). Two seat fighters came to include a WSO (Weapons Systems Officer), also known as the GIB (Guy In the Back), to handle the increasing number of electronic gadgets carried. Despite increasing automation, there are still situations where you need a second person on board to handle details that are not automated, yet. To that end, the U.S. Air Force has created a general-purpose job, the Combat Systems Officer (CSO).

The CSO career field is still evolving, but the idea is to recruit people who like to fly, can learn quickly and are flexible. Thus any new airborne gear that requires a human operator on board, can be quickly be mastered by a CSO. Cyber Warfare is another area that suits CSOs. It's also likely that CSOs will operate from the ground also. As UAVs get larger, and more lavishly equipped, the job of the sensor controller will become complex enough to require a CSO.


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