ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
To ensure airman readiness during deployments, the 78th Security Forces Squadron recently tied field training into a dismounted operations exercise at Gator Base here.
The training instructors said planned scenarios were designed with realism in mind, and according to those who participated, it was time well spent.
The situations featured support by the 116th Explosive Ordinance Disposal Flight, and were intended to reinforce training previously given to all security forces personnel at technical school. It’s also expected to better prepare defenders for additional training they will receive before deployment.
The event, which took place Nov. 11 in the wooded areas and open training fields of Gator Base at Robins, combined dismounted operations, foot patrol formations, improvised explosive device attacks and building clearance tactics among several other lessons.
“In the event of a no-notice or short-notice deployment, this type training helps our people to stay ready,” Staff Sgt. Bryan Trumet, 78th SFS training instructor, said.
The objective of the exercise scenario of the day was to gather intelligence on enemy troops and afterwards, locate and ultimately save a hostage. It would be no easy feat for the students who were mostly security forces newcomers.
While walking through the woods towards a compound in search of the hostage, the students were confronted by direct enemy gunfire, missile mortars and IEDs.
Throughout the day, they were continuously forced to make spiltsecond decisions on whether to push forward, take cover or neutralize a threat. In real-world situations their decisions could be the difference between the success or failure of a mission and possibly even the loss of life or limb.
Instructors keenly observed their reactions to each encounter.
“The idea is that placing them in these situations during training helps build muscle memory and reactionary skills which will help them to instinctively know what to do in real-world situations,” Trumet said.
Along the way, they passed an artificial IED that posed a major threat to the group.
Although the device was very well hidden in the ground, there were indicators present that vigilant eyes might discover. Instructors pointed out what those indicators were to help improve the student’s ability to recognize them and avoid coming into dangerous contact.
The group of airmen came under heavy gunfire attack as they approached the compound where they would soon have to use their building clearing experience to find and rescue the hostage. The squadron conducts building-clearance training throughout the year because no two buildings are the same, and they must remain prepared for the unexpected.
After successfully rescuing the hostage – simulated by a 200-pound, dead-weight dummy – the students faced the challenge of carrying the hostage on a stretcher 1,500 feet to safety while taking fire from yet another relentless attack.
At the after action review, student performance was critiqued by instructors at the end of the day. They pointed out mistakes, missed opportunities and bad decisions while also recognizing the good ones. Student course feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The majority expressed interest in expanding on the training in the future.
“There’s a PowerPoint for everything these days,” Trumet said, “but any time we can get out and conduct this type of hands-on training, it’s the students who benefit.”