Experience a key training tool at Security Forces Academy

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Shad Eidson
  • Air Force Print News
A unit here is taking Airmen's combat experiences and merging them into the training they provide security forces bound for duty "outside the wire" in war zones.

The 343rd Training Squadron has added combat experience to their Security Forces Academy to better prepare Airmen to provide air base defense and participate in combat operations.

"Most of our students are going to the fight within their first year," said Lt. Col. Tim Farrell, squadron commander. "We have a duty to get them ready."

Changes to the course material were determined through a utilization-of-training workshop held last fall. There, senior enlisted experts worked with the technical training professionals to evaluate every specialty training standard to see what needed to change to prepare Airmen to better combat today's threats.

Since official changes take coordination and time, squadron leaders made a few modifications to the course preparation and hired the right people to be trainers -- those with combat experience.

"We try to bring in people who have been in the fight recently and people who have been in nuclear weapons protection units recently. Literally and figuratively, we want their war stories when they deliver a presentation," the colonel said.

One of the experienced instructors is Staff Sgt. Brian Lunger of El Paso, Texas. He has deployed to many countries in the Middle East and been part of combat operations while working with Army special forces in Afghanistan. At the academy, he is the NCO in charge of the military operations and urban terrain training.

The sergeant said the aim is to take raw troops and turn them into apprentices who can deploy to do their job in any war zone.

"When they leave here, they're ready to do their war jobs," the sergeant said.

The academy, which trains more than 5,000 security forces Airmen annually, teaches security forces, enlisted and officer, the basic courses in air base defense. Students also learn about missile security, convoy actions, protection of nuclear weapons and law enforcement.

The instructors pass on their extensive deployment and combat experiences in these areas to their students. Sergeant Lunger likes to teach his students one thing in particular.

"I teach them not to hesitate to be decisive and to communicate," he said. "I want to instill that in their minds, so they don't make the same mistakes we have made."

Airmen in other support career fields are also helping deliver the message outside of the classroom. The squadron's military training leaders come from various fields, such as medical, aircraft maintenance and administration.

The academy does not stop there. Instructors are essentially the students' first supervisors. Training leaders set the example, from running the dormitory to continuation of the principles of basic military training -- core values and Airmenship.

"(Training leaders) come from all walks of life across the Air Force and a good portion of them are fresh from the fight in their particular career field," the colonel said. "They help drive the point home to our Airmen that it's a big Air Force out there, we're all expeditionary and we're all in this fight together."

With today's rapidly changing threats, it is not feasible to bring in every Airman to share an appropriate combat experience or to wait every few years for a workshop review. Peer discussion and staying in contact with counterparts in the field adds relevant material to training, the colonel said.

"We listen to our senior leadership in the field, both enlisted and officer," the colonel said. "We get the right people in here -- fresh from the fight."

The result, he said, is that the academy turns out students who are "ready to fight."