Air Force training makes Airmen safer, more aware

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Melanie Adams and Tech. Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo Jr.
  • Air Force Print News
Staff Sgt. Jason Lowery knows that preparing for combat duty is something many Airmen do not know much about.

But training Airmen to be safer and more aware of the dangers they face around the world is not a new concept. Air Force Combat Skills Training is just the newest method of providing today's expeditionary Airmen tactical skills that could save their lives in a war zone.

"Most of the people who attend this training have never experienced anything like this," Sergeant Lowery said. He helped train Airmen at the Fort Dix Air Mobility Warfare Center in New Jersey while with the 421st Combat Training Squadron.

The Air Force training covers many topics. Included in the two-week course is M-16 rifle familiarization, close-quarters battle training, combat first aid and other needed skills.

The vital training unites Airmen as they prepare for their role in fighting the war on terrorism, said Capt. Tyler Buckley, a staff judge advocate from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. He went through the training in November and said it is invaluable.

"It puts a lot of people together from different career fields and allowed us to work together in accomplishing hard-charging tactical objectives," the captain said.

Because the Air Force is so expeditionary, Airmen find themselves in more intense situations than they have in the past. To better prepare them for the new challenges they face, the Air Force has implemented more training programs to help its Airmen better prepare for what they might face when they deploy.

Advanced Contingency Skills Training is one course the Air Force is using to give Airmen every possible advantage in the field.

"The course is designed for all Airmen in all skills deploying to high-threat contingency environments today," said Lt. Col. Lisa Richter, who commands the training squadron at the Army post.

The training includes personnel weapons employment, convoy operations, day and night defensive operations, combat first aid and associated field craft. It also includes specific functional-level training for select Air Force career fields.

The colonel said the Fort Dix training builds on the foundation of training Airmen receive at their home stations -- then adds more detailed knowledge and intense practical experience to help them learn skills not traditionally taught in Air Force training courses. For Airmen who don't deal with weapons on a daily basis, it helps give them the confidence they need to work through weapon jams and life-saving skills in threatening situations.

The training also allows people to become more familiar with Humvees and weapons so that, when they're in a war zone, "they don't get themselves or others killed from lack of knowledge," the colonel said.

Training is especially important for Airmen working with Soldiers who already use the equipment on a routine basis and may not have time to help their Air Force counterparts learn all the ins and outs of tactical equipment, Colonel Richter said.

"Not only do Airmen learn about tactical equipment and how to defend themselves, they also learn how to take care of their fellow Airmen with specialized first aid training designed to render care in an expeditious manner and get their comrades to safety while not becoming casualties themselves," she said.

The Air Force is training to keep Airmen safe so they return home safely.

"I would personally recommend this training to any Airman going to a forward location," Captain Buckley said. "The training could be the difference between life or death while facing the unpredictability of Middle East insurgents today."

Sergeant Lowery helped train many Airmen before they deployed to bases in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"This (training) is a huge step in the right direction to let them see this before they get down range," the sergeant said.