Airmen shake off rust; add on dirt
By Airman 1st Class Jessica Lockoski, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 17, 2007
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Lying prone in high grass, feeling the hot sun penetrate through layers of protective gear, Airmen wait for their commander to give the call to rush forward into a house of hostiles. Stagnate puddles map a field that is filled with the sound of gunfire and clouds of yellow smoke grenades.
This was the scene May 11, at the Military Operation Urban Terrain site here in which Team McConnell members reviewed the field exercise portion of Combat Skills Training.
Combat Skills Training, now a mandatory Air Force-wide program, gives McConnell Airmen the opportunity to learn and practice warfare skills in a training environment. Prior to deployment, Airmen, ranking from airman basic through colonel, will are scheduled to attend CST.
Readiness can save lives. Keeping our Airman prepared and ready plays a major role to successful operations downrange, said one of the course trainers.
"In order for our bases to be defended properly, every Airman should have the knowledge to proceed to in the event of an attack," said Staff Sgt. Sean Gray, 22nd Security Forces Squadron training instructor.
Today, more Airmen deploy with Army units then ever before, and it is vital to learn how to work with them as a team said Sergeant Gray.
Successfully sharing the knowledge of defensive combative skills and steadily implementing them, through the best use of force necessary, increases defeat from insurgencies during warfare attacks he said.
One unique thing about this training class was the opportunity to have the lowest and highest ranking McConnell members train together.
Joined by Col. Donald Halpin, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander, pre-deployers and an augmentee training class, fresh from completing technical school, gathered to learn new skills and refresh skills some Airmen were taught long ago.
The Airmen and the commander reviewed how to use dynamic entry in urban combat situations.
"Watching our commander go through the same training we went through really proves that this is something all of us need to know. It's real. That's what keeps sticking in my mind," said Airman Garret Nelson, 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
During CST, instructors remind students about the use of force and field training. During field training instructors begin by issuing weapons and Airmens' memories are jogged with safety procedures of their M-16 rifle.
Cover and concealment is reviewed before sets of teams take their tactics to the dirt to maneuver low crawls, high crawls and rush and rolls. Airmen are fitted with flack vests, helmets and protective gear to get the full effect of being in a combat environment.
"They (instructors) all went beyond the script to provide us the real-life experiences and lessons learned," said Colonel Halpin.
"CST is vital to ensuring our members are prepared to enter today's combat environment. It is much more than the briefings and Field Training exercises - it is also the interface with our security forces members who have 'been there, done that,'" said Colonel Halpin. "That's what makes the course so valuable."
Colonel Halpin told the lead Airman of each team what to do for mission accomplishment -- make haste, heads down, shoot when necessary and find cover. He made sure everyone on his firing team understood their roles before moving on with the plan to conduct a close quarter battle on the urban terrain village.
Airman Basic Justin Sinclair, 22nd Maintenance Squadron, had the opportunity to work along side Colonel Halpin to get the job done.
"It wasn't long ago, I was using these skills in basic military training during warrior week, but by not using those skills, they started to fade from my memory, Airman Sinclair said.
"This CST training is more in-depth, and I feel more prepared with a better view of what can lay ahead of me in a deployment zone," he said.