By Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Small arms fire, muffled footsteps and shouts for ‘cover’ filled the gun powder-drenched air of Peterson’s former Exchange, while members of the 21st Security Forces Squadron maneuvered a Shoot, Move, Communicate course Dec. 4.
Tech. Sgt. David Stewart, 21st SFS trainer and instructor for the day, said the Shoot, Move, Communicate course prepares security forces members to effectively adapt and respond to one another while reacting to enemy fire.
“Communication is an extremely important aspect of reacting to enemy contact,” Stewart said. “If you’re not in constant communication with your partners, they can’t cover you the way they should.”
“Our Airmen get a lot of benefits from the course,” said Stewart. “One of the biggest benefits is that (security forces members) become very proficient with their weapons and communicating with each other when responding to hostile actions.”
Stewart said using simunitions, a paintball-type round, provides an added sense of realism.
“We are sending projectiles down range so we can judge students’ accuracy,” said Stewart. “As we move past the ‘crawl’ stage and we actually have ‘enemy combatants’ down range, we’ll have rounds coming back at our students that are safe and allow them to get real-time feedback if they are not using proper cover or not using proper tactics.”
Stewart added that this training provides an Air Force-wide standard of practice making it easier for security forces personnel from units around the world to integrate seamlessly.
“The course allows us to train to the same level so when we arrive in theater we don’t have to take the initial time to get to know each other’s tactics,” said Stewart. “We’re all trained to the exact same standards across the Air Force.”
Stewart said when the Shoot, Move, Communicate course was first implemented at Peterson, security forces personnel conducted their training outdoors, on a remote area of the base, often in harsh elements.
“The benefit of using this facility is one; it gives us a place where we can conduct our training indoors, in a safe manner, and two; it is not adding any cost to the Air Force,” said Stewart.
Stewart said he was grateful for the facility and security forces has plans to maximize training opportunities until the building is demolished once funds become available.
“Our future plans are to incorporate this facility into our active shooter training because this building is set up very similarly to high-risk buildings on base where we may have to respond to in the future,” said Stewart. “In addition, we plan on setting up a Beam Hit range, an electronic system that uses lasers to target our weapon system and allows us to practice fundamentals.”
As with any training, which incorporates live-fire exercises, safety is paramount.
“This facility affords security forces a great opportunity, but it is extremely important that people understand that we are using this as a range and it needs to be treated as such,” said Stewart.
“We take several safety precautions when using our simunitions,” said Stewart. “All students are required to wear ear protection and eye protection to ensure that there are no injuries.”
Students also wear Kevlar helmets, which are mandatory, and body armor since this training simulates a deployed environment, said Stewart.
Stewart added that safety for the general public is also one of their major concerns.
“We’ve got several safety precautions in place to ensure that people do not come into our impact areas of the range and people need to ensure that they follow these procedures,” said Stewart. “Signs are posted on all doors giving instructions on how to contact range officials or instructors if they need access to the facility. We would ask that people do not enter the facility without making contact with SF prior.”
Anyone with questions regarding the Shoot, Move, Communicate course may contact 21st SFS at 556-4000.