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Defenders graduate Weapons and Tactics

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  • By Staff Sgt. Nicole Reed
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

Defenders from across the country graduated the Security Forces Weapons and Tactics Instructors Course September 3, 2020 at Camp Guernsey, Wyoming.

This most recent iteration of the course was the first to be validated, or accepted for military wide use, after four years of hard work and effort from many different parties. Prior to the Weapons and Tactics Instructor training, two other, separate courses were employed, with one focusing on tactics and the other on critical thinking.

“We needed a course that merged these two prior courses together,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Alcala, Air Force Global Strike Command weapons and tactics manager. “This final course was established and validated in an effort to integrate a tactics network across the security forces community as a whole.”

Throughout seven weeks of training, students were given a deeper understanding of how their weapons systems worked. They trained in distance firing, threat discrimination, firing around targets, nuclear security operations, mounted and dismounted operations, area security and finally, law and order operations.

“As students, we went through everything that a normal defender would face on a daily basis but then we stepped it up a notch through a variety of courses that reinforced the foundation of our skills” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Hill, 736th Security Forces Squadron Pacific Air Forces Regional Training Center instructor. “This training allows us to be a subject matter expert on a larger portion of our jobs as defenders.”

Defenders from every major command were present at the training. A key goal of the course is to be able to take methodologies and tactics from different missions and utilize them across every aspect of the career field.

“We bring an expert and their tactics from each base,” said Tech. Sgt. Junior Ramirez, 90th Security Forces Group Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course instructor. “We essentially ask the question ‘How are you doing things at your base?’, so that students can take back that knowledge to their home stations. It’s all about standardization.”

This method of training allows students to go back to their home stations and be unit integrators with their mission partners, according to Alcala.

Feedback and in-depth debriefs were key in the process of constant improvement throughout the course duration. Course cadre constantly pushed students to evaluate themselves, reassess and reattack.

“By not having good, hard feedback, students are actually being set up for failure down the road,” emphasized Tech. Sgt. Cory Irvin, 27th Security Forces Squadron Deployed Aircraft Ground Response Element program manager. “Humility is a huge component of our debriefs. No matter how well an exercise was executed, it is our job as cadre to continuously search for something to improve upon.”

Irvin also stressed that course cadre were adamant in encouraging students to think outside of the box.

"We need our students to be open-minded and to move away from the rigidness typically found within the career field,” Irvin said. “We are moving past the old-school line of thinking of ‘this is how we have always done it’.” 

The course ended with a hostage rescue exercise to cap off a continuation of scenarios students faced throughout the training. Alcala says he hopes that the end of this course leaves students with a feeling of empowerment and camaraderie.

“It’s all about the person to your right and left,” he stated. “We are trying to create a team of teams, so when students leave, they understand that we all have a shared purpose.”