By Tech. Sgt. Brianne Van Horn
721st Security Forces Squadron
CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. — Providing Airmen with the techniques and skill sets required by an ever-changing operational environment, whether in garrison or deployed, is the most challenging aspect of keeping current with Air Force education and training programs.
The 721st Security Forces Squadron continues to develop new learning concepts and creative, forward-thinking training environments to guide Airman development. The squadron has modified its existing training program by redefining the training environment. After years of simply checking the box of Air Force Instruction required lesson plans, the squadron realized it was vital to cultivate the learning atmosphere.
One of the best ways to do this was by minimizing power point presentations and maximizing hands-on, fundamental instruction. Classroom time was unavoidable, but applying strategic planning in order to break up the classroom time with hands-on training proved invaluable. Two recent examples of this hands-on training include using a Fort Carson shoot house to conduct realistic building clearing with non-lethal training ammunition, and conducting land navigation training at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Jacks Valley.
Sim-munitions proved to be a great force-on-force tool and provided Airmen with the opportunity to use their everyday service weapons in a training environment. Airmen were faced with several different training scenarios, including active shooter and barricaded suspect. They were introduced to an unknown threat inside an unfamiliar building — something that they very well may face in a real-world scenario. In these intense training environments, they were expected to execute a proper building sweep and achieve their goal of neutralizing the threat. If proper techniques were not utilized, sim-munitions provided instant feedback on poor tactics or poor decisions. These training events showed there is nothing like the fear of being shot to sharpen one’s focus and concentration.
Land navigation training began with learning how to utilize a lensatic compass and calculate direction and distance on a map. Airmen learned how to properly orient a map by associating terrain features and direction of travel. During land navigation, Airmen’s skills were once again put to the test as they were tasked to plot their way to different points using a map and compass. After first locating their position on a map, each Airman went through the fundamental process of plotting the entire trip. They then had to find those points on real terrain and ultimately find their way back to the starting point.
In addition to the training required by AFIs, the Airmen realized the need for combative training — another skill used to hone Airmen’s ability to not only defend themselves, but others as well. Taking a cue from the Army, the squadron defines combatives as the study of hand-to-hand combat, and studied Army techniques and modified them to fit the security forces’ mission of protecting and defending the base populace.
“I really learned a lot in combative training. I feel like it’s something that can be very useful for all security forces members to perform with confidence of a little more assurance of self defense,” said Senior Airman Nicholas Hurt, 721st SFS.
Combatives training gave Airmen another skill-set in their repertoire, making them more confident if they’re ever faced with that type of situation. The Airmen learned a variety of basic escape techniques, offensive strikes, weapons retention and physical restraint holds. The goal of the training program was to provide Airmen the foundation and abilities to prepare them for the challenges they may face as a security forces professional, where proper training can mean the difference between life and death. Innovation was the key to developing the training — and the Airmen and their capabilities.
“Combatives taught me the skills needed to fight off an attacker,” said Senior Airman Angelina Fields, 721st SFS. “I feel much more confidant if I have to defend myself or others.”