5th CBCSS Combat Readiness School provides ‘stress inoculations’

  • Published
  • By Joseph Mather
  • Robins Publics Affairs

Each day Airmen across the Air Force routinely deploy to hostile environments around the globe in support of the warfighter.

The 5th Combat Communication Support Squadron Combat Readiness School at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, ensures those Airmen have the skills to be capable of deploying with confidence.

Derek Dewar, 5th CBCSS CRS noncommissioned officer in charge, said this is one of two locations in the Air Force capable of teaching the Field Craft Hostile Course.

“It was originally created at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, as the main hub for the curriculum,” he said. “As time went on, the classes increased and the schoolhouse started to use the 5th CBCSS to take the overflow.”

With a mission to train and prepare Airmen to go down range into a combat operations theater, James Robbins, 5th CBCSS CRS director, said combat can be one of the most stressful moments of a person’s life.

“The worst place to find out what happens to your body physically and mentally is in that moment,” he said. “Bad things can come from having it be their first time experiencing that.”

The stress of those moments can bring on hyperventilation, anxiety, high heart rates and adrenaline dumps, said Robbins.

“What we try to do here is expose our students to simulated safe combat environment situations,” he said. “We layer in stress by putting a lot of information into their brains intentionally and put them in situations where there is more going on than they can handle.”

Robbins said they try to hit all their senses by keeping them uncomfortable, tired and stressed out.

“We play loud music, throw blast simulators and have gunfire going off in the background from machine gun simulators playing. We are trying to layer in all these stressors into their senses,” he said. “Then we tell them to go do a mission and to succeed at that mission and bring all their people back from that mission.”

Dewar said a lot of Air Force members are not exposed to these high stress combat environments.

“They are used to sitting at desk in the air conditioning with nothing blowing up around them and no one yelling at them while stuff is blowing up,” said Dewar. “So to the best of our ability and with the tools that we have, we try to create that high stress combat environment.” 

Robbins said this gives the students a stress inoculation.

“Once they experience everything we can throw at them safely, in a controlled environment where their life really is not at risk, they can identify what is happening to their body,” he said. “Each individual can say I remember feeling this stress during training and hat my body is going through is normal.”

Being a CRS instructor has its own challenges and stresses, said Robbins.

“Everything the students have to do, we have to do,” he said. “We are on our feet with the students walking and moving with them in the hot and cold.”

Robbins said it takes a certain type of person to do this job.

“Definitely A-type personalities are need for this job -- guys that are not afraid to be dirty, tired and pushed through,” he said.

The CRS instructors are highly motivated, said Robbins.

“All the instructors are passionate about what they do,” he said. “I do not know why, but they are bought into our culture down here, and I love leading these guys. I keeps me youthful.”