Friday, September 25, 2015

TOP STORY >> Training exercises Defenders’ rapid reflexes

By Tammy L. Reed
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The Team Little Rock community was reminded June 15 that base security forces do more than check IDs at the gate. 

That day, they stopped an active shooter from making his way onto the base. 

Running toward the danger, 19th Security Forces Squadron Airmen used ingrained tactics and training to end a situation that could have escalated into a more tragic event.

Master Sgt. Stacy Goad, 19th SFS training non-commissioned officer in charge, reviewed the video of the incident and said he was very proud of the actions of the Airmen involved. 

“I could see when the training actually kicked in, I could tell,” Goad said. “There was the initial surprise moment, and then everything where it did kick in; it all clicked. They performed admirably.”

Security professionals prepare for these tense situations with an ongoing, annual requirement. Under the Home Station Training Objective, training instructions will be standardized throughout the Air Force.

Goad explained that Defenders have 216 hours of Home Station Training required every year. Forty-four of those hours are dedicated to local mission scenarios. The training 19th SFS conducts every three weeks covers 95 of those hours in two-week blocks and covers topics such as CPR, fingerprint and DNA collection, and disposition of offenders.

“For the troops, the HST training is beneficial if they PCS or deploy, as everybody is trained to the same standard,” Goad said. “So they know the person next to them has received the same training, and they aren’t wondering about them, they’ll know the training is there,” Goad said. 

Senior Airman Marsalis Brown, 19th SFS patrolman, was one of 13 airmen participating in a recent training session. He’s been through it a number of times, and each time has been an eye-opening experience for him as he brushed up on skills and techniques. 

“We trained on responding to domestic disturbances in tech school and as soon as I got here we also went over it,” Brown said. “Maybe a few short weeks after the training, I responded to my first domestic. … It kind of surprised me how they train you for it, then when you actually go out on one, it works. In the situation I was dealing with, it was pretty much me trying to de-escalate the situation and able to get the job done in a timely manner.”

Brown’s classmate, Senior Airman Aaron Rivers, 19th SFS armorer, enjoyed the combatives training, which hones hand-to-hand defensive maneuvers to use when a situation may escalate to physical intervention. 

“Personally, I would like to see more combatives taught in the classroom, as you can never have enough experience defending yourself, or defending someone else if the situation arises.”

The defenders aim to defuse situations with the least amount of force necessary.

“If a person becomes hostile, we don’t jump straight to lethal force. Depending on the situation -- if the person has a weapon, how big they are compared to the officer, all these are factors considered when we use non-lethal force,” Staff Sgt. D’Avery Crawford, a 19th SFS trainer, said. 

“About three or four weeks after I taught a student how to use the OC spray (pepper spray), he actually had to use it at the back gate. He did what he needed to do, and he did it pretty well,” he said.

The trainers strive to make the events as real as possible to develop the “muscle memory” to respond to life and death situations. 

“Some of the other training we did was simmunition training that we just started recently, which teaches you how to respond to active shooters in case you have to respond and some of the tactics we’d use in that environment,” said Rivers. 

Goad said the changing training program provides a continually kinetic process that keeps the program scenarios relevant to his Defenders’ duties. 

“If there are any new requirements that come down, we adapt and we adjust our training.  This is the first full calendar year we’ve had a chance to evaluate the program,” he said. “I’m sure there will be a lot of communication between us and AMC and Security Forces Center, but so far it seems to be going really well.

“For people outside looking in, I’d like them to know that the security forces on this base will continue to do their best to protect the people and resources of this base,” he said. “The training we do directly enhances how we do our job.”

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