Army trains Airmen for 'outside the wire' mission

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Nick Plante
  • 2nd Air Force Public Affairs
Volunteer security forces Airmen from 65 bases completed Army training here, giving them the skills to perform a unique mission in Iraq.

Fort Hood provided 182 Air Force security forces members with general and advanced combat skills via Army instruction to prepare them for their new mission.

The Airmen, who deployed Nov. 14, came together to form Detachment 7, 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. They will train and work with Iraqi police forces in Iraq for 365 days.

Normally, this type of assignment is performed by the Soldiers; however, the Army requested the Air Force's help.

"It's all part of the in-lieu-of training," said Maj. Cody Barker, Detachment 2, 2nd Air Force commander, and Air Force liaison at Fort Hood.

ILO training prepares Airmen for nontraditional combat environments in support of the combatant commanders' requirements where Airmen are deployed to assist Soldiers.

"This is an extremely dangerous mission for the Air Force, because it is totally outside the wire and on the streets," said Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Salvaggio, Headquarters Air Force Security Center security forces manager.

The six-weeks plus of training provided the 154-member deployment team and 28 alternates with basic skills such as first aid, map reading and marksmanship and advanced skills including enhanced first aid, escalation of force, counter-IED and counter-insurgency techniques. It was all part of the total theater immersion training they experienced at the Fort Hood training center. They also were taught how police work has been done in Iraq from an Army unit recently deployed there.

"The active-duty security forces Airmen who've just completed the training were at a high level of training when they arrived," said Army Col. David Clark, commander of the 2nd Training Support Brigade, 75th Division, at Fort Hood. "They were an impressive lot; they were fit and had most of the basic skills and fundamental knowledge. They will have success."

Colonel Clark also said the group was motivated to learn, and that helped the Army instructors teach the Airmen.

The Airmen felt they benefited from the training because it provided them with the know-how to accomplish their mission.

"At my last home station, we used the basics. But basic is not enough for where we are going," said Senior Airman Robert Wetzel of F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. "'Five and 25!' When you hear that shouted, it means you scan five to 25 meters before stepping out of your vehicle. It's a reminder that complacency will put you and your comrades in jeopardy."

The Airmen felt the time spent training together provided them with a chance to get to know each other and build relationships.

"For the next year, we will be bleeding, sweating, and crying together," said Airman Wetzel. "We are going over there not as Airmen, but as a family."

Others agreed.

"I think the time we all got to spend together during the training was very beneficial to the coming together of this group," said Airmen 1st Class Ashley Tubbs of Eglin AFB, Fla.

"Originally we came from 65 different bases," said Staff Sgt. Robert Hanks of Tinker AFB, Okla. "The training has gelled us as one strong unit."

The Airmen felt they were trained by highly competent and skilled instructors.

"Some of us thought that we would have to put up with Air Force insults from Army instructors, but they were great to work with," Airman Wetzel said.

"The Army instructors were amazing. They were always around so if you did not understand something they would go over and over it until it was completely understood," Airman Tubbs said.

Team members think they're ready for their unique mission.

"I came here as a security guard of a missile field, and I'm leaving here as a war-ready security forces Airman," Airman Wetzel said.

"Everyone on this deployment is doing something amazing by putting themselves in harm's way for their country," Airman Tubbs said. "Did I mention that we all volunteered for this?"