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Anti-terrorism techniques essential

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman J.G. Buzanowski
  • Air Force Print News

When Lt. Col. Ed O’Neal was on a training mission in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, two years ago, his hotel came under attack. A group of insurgents took over the building and held it hostage for most of the day before authorities were able to regain control.

Colonel O’Neal eventually escaped, but was shot five times. Once medical treatment began, a curious young Airman asked him, “Colonel, what do you do for the Air Force that you got hurt like this?”

“I work in manpower and personnel,” Colonel O’Neal told the surprised Airman.

If there is any lesson to be taken from Colonel O’Neal’s story, terrorist attacks can happen to anyone, so Airman must always be prepared -- whether at home or abroad.

One person responsible for teaching Airmen these types of survival tactics is Lt. Col. John Moes, chief of anti-terrorism and force protection operations.

“Every Airman needs to be trained in anti-terrorism techniques,” he said. “An alert person can be the difference between an attack failing or succeeding.”

Level I Antiterrorism training provides basic techniques and strategies to avoid becoming an easy target and also teaches proven survival methods. Airmen complete this training annually through computer-based training or from a certified Level II instructor.

Level II Antiterrorism training is classroom-based and certifies Airmen to become antiterrorism technique trainers. The classes are taught at regional training centers or by instruction teams who travel directly to a base and focus on topics such as how terrorists operate, as well as what kinds of tactics and weapons they might use.

One of those instructors, Master Sgt. Michael Vance, works with the 421st Combat Training Squadron at Fort Dix, N.J. His unit focuses on training Air Mobility Command Airmen before they deploy.

As the anti-terrorism program manager, he and his team travel to AMC bases every couple of months, ensuring every installation is visited at least once every two years. While there, they lead the five-day Level II course for as many as 40 students at a time. Course completion certifies the students to train the Level I course, fill a role on a threat working group and advise a commander with options in the event of a terrorist attack.

“This kind of training isn’t just for security forces,” Sergeant Vance said. “One of our goals is to get all of our students, regardless of their job in the Air Force, to examine how they think about terrorism. Most of them have preconceived impressions that terrorism only happens to certain kinds of people at certain places.”

The truth is that terrorists will try to strike anywhere they can, so every Airman must be vigilant, whether they’re stateside or overseas, Sergeant Vance said.

He also teaches Airmen skills to determine the readiness of an installation in case of a terrorist attack.

“If people don’t conduct regular risk assessment, a vulnerability will be exploited sooner or later,” Sergeant Vance said. “We teach people how to test their base, like how to look for people conducting surveillance or testing security as well as the importance of random anti-terrorism measures.”

In keeping with the Air Force vision to better prepare its Airmen, basic trainees are now taught anti-terrorism techniques.

“The Air Force has changed basic military training from the ground up to include more antiterrorism training,” Colonel Moes said. “This will ensure the Airmen of tomorrow will have the skills necessary to face this type of threat. Every Airman is an expeditionary Airman -- the sooner they are prepared for the global war on terror, the better.”

For anyone looking for quick reference material, Colonel Moes said the Airman’s Manual is “invaluable.”

“I highly encourage everyone keep it handy at all times,” he said. “The Airman’s manual is an important tool for today’s Airmen. What someone can learn by reading just one page can literally save lives.”