By Marcus Hill | 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The 50th Security Forces Squadron sent 11 Airmen to Fort Bliss, Texas, at Desert Defender Ground Combat Readiness Training Center April 26 for tier training to prepare for future deployments and meet the needs of combatant commanders.
The training lasts 10 days and teaches Airmen about threat weapons – AK-47s, RPGs, hand grenades, RPG-style anti-personnel weapons – culminating with field training exercises.
Training normally includes four tiers, separated by an Airman’s rank, which also determine the duration of training. However, due to COVID-19, the training was compressed to include all levels.
“This [training] gives [Airmen] insight of what to expect and how to react,” said Staff Sgt. Xavier Cordova, 50th SFS noncommissioned officer in charge of supplies. “It shows how to react and how to go about business downrange in an unknown environment to those who are new to the Middle East.”
Tech Sgt. Thomas Angelini, 50th SFS unit deployment manager, is grateful Airmen not only get to view another part of the U.S., but also do so as a unit.
“They get to practice some of the more obscure tasks in security forces,” he said. “They get to build camaraderie while they’re out there. This will let them come together as a group before they move into the [area of responsibility.]”
Obscure tasks include operations orders, troop-leading procedures, sector sketches and dealing with improvised explosive devices.
“They get to walk through an area that’s been set with various types of IEDs that we emulate and have seen downrange in the past,” Angelini said. “They’ll have to identify those and pick them out to ensure safety.”
Angelini likes Airmen training in the course because of the hands-on experience and lessons it provides.
“This lets our Airmen learn about the bread and butter of the career field, which is air base defense,” he said. “They get into the nitty-gritty of the tasks that are going to be expected of them. Patrolling is incredibly important for teams to be able to maneuver downrange safely in a hostile fire area. They can learn of the enemy’s weapons capabilities and [training] teaches them to recognize IEDs. It’s great they get to do this as a group.”
Prior to coming together as a group, though, Airmen had to separate by self-isolating for 14 days to reduce potential spread of COVID-19. During training, Airmen go from their temporary housing, to training and back to their rooms. Angelini said Airmen won’t have to quarantine upon return.
“It’s basically: work, eat, sleep, rinse and repeat for 10 [consecutive] days after their 14 days of restricted movement,” Angelini said.
Though the process included multiple weeks of separation, Angelini appreciates how this training will help 50th SFS in the future as well as the participants.
“Some of the skills aren’t as frequently used and this allows the unit to increase our readiness for deployment down the road,” Angelini said. “This is a great opportunity and I’m glad [our Airmen are] able to experience this.”