Wing completes new training in year's first 'expeditionary' war week

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The sound of boots stomping and grunts of aggression echoed off the eastern wall of Bldg. 940 March 8 and 9 when Airmen from the 460th Space Wing began a new phase of expeditionary combat skills training.

The training, which the Air Force's Air Expeditionary Force Center hopes will ensure every deploying Airman has the same level of basic competencies in contingency skills, is designed to give Airmen the knowledge necessary to be safe and effective when deployed.

The wing's focus at present is to train Airmen who may deploy in AEFs 1, 2, 3 or 4 later this year.

The Air Force lesson plans include 19 hours of instruction in combat skills, proper use of force, body armor familiarization, M-16 maintenance, air base defense and rifle fighting. Eventually, Airmen will be required to demonstrate these skills during a field exercise.

The concepts being presented aren't entirely unfamiliar to Airmen who've trained for deployments here in the past, said Mr. Mike Hanke, exercise evaluation team chief.

"This is the first time that we've used this particular lesson plan," he said, "but we've taught a lot of this information before - and also convoy operations, tent construction, self-aid and buddy care, and weapons maintenance and use."

"Overall the training was very beneficial," said Airman 1st Class Anthony Mullen, a chaplain's assistant here. "It seems that there's a lengthy time between field exercises so getting this type of training in the interim is great."

Airman Mullen has not deployed during his two years of service, but may deploy later this year.

"Above and beyond the actual instruction, the classes provided the chance for those that have deployed to share experiences with people who haven't, so that was beneficial as well," he said.

Rifle fighting, which hasn't been taught at the space wing before, is part of the new training.

Rifle fighting is used for defense, when the use of force is authorized, when someone isn't complying, and when they are showing aggressive actions that could lead to bodily harm or death, said Master Sgt. Thomas Johnson, 460th Security Forces Squadron superintendent of training and resources. He and Staff Sgt. Jason Lambert from the 460th SFS training section demonstrated the rifle fighting skills.

"It's a skill for people to know so they can protect themselves in situations where lethal force isn't authorized, but they're still carrying a weapon," Sergeant Johnson said.

Certain deployable Airmen, namely security forces and civil engineers, are exempt from the training, Mr. Hanke said, since they receive the training at other venues. Civil engineering Airmen complete a five-day course at Tyndall Air Force Base, where they get technical, hands-on training using the equipment they expect to use while deployed. Security forces Airmen complete expeditionary training at Creech AFB in Indian Springs, Nev., where they review urban warfare techniques, convoy procedures and how to secure a base.

Airmen can expect to receive combat skills training at least two more times before May, when they'll be expected to put those skills to the test in a field exercise.