JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA –
Fourteen Airmen from various units here participated in a locally developed combat skills training course Sept. 26-29, 2016 at McCrady Army National Guard Training Center, Eastover, South Carolina. This was the first evolution of the course, the “proof of concept,” with plans to make it enduring in the future.
The course provides actual field training to Airmen deploying to locations that do not require attendance to U.S. Air Force sanctioned in-residence combat skills training.
“We wanted to make sure our warriors were ready for anything when they deploy. Now that hands-on training isn't mandatory for most career fields before deployments, we decided to get back to basics and come up with a modified field craft training course to make sure we are prepared to the fullesst extent before heading downrange,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Robert Lyman, 628th Air Base Wing commander.
South Carolina Army National Guard’s Pre-mobilization Training Assistance Element (PTAE) conducted the course. The instructors trained Airmen in various skills, to include land navigation, rifle marksmanship, reacting to enemy contact, small squad movement and treating and evacuating casualties. The tried and true Army concept of “Shoot, Move, Communicate, Medicate, and Survive” was used throughout the course.
“A lot of it was self-discovery, accountability and situational awareness,” said U.S. Army Guard Staff Sgt. Michael McCall, South Carolina Army National Guard PTAE instructor. “We directly instructed them in certain parts of the training but they also learned by realizing if they made certain decisions, they had to deal with the possible outcomes.”
On the last day, during the Airmen’s final training mission, the instructors used smoke bombs, simulated artillery rounds and even posed as opposing forces.
“We can train all day in the classroom with no pressure but by adding realism to the equation, the student is more likely to perform what they learned in training when facing high-stress situations,” McCall said.
The four-day training was made possible by the combined effort of multiple units on base, included the 628th Mission Support Group, 628th Security Forces Squadron, 628th Logistics Readiness Squadron, 628th Force Support Squadron, and 628th Comptroller Squadron to name a few. At the conclusion of the training course a robust after action review was conducted to determine areas of potential improvement.
“We did a hot wash right after finishing the training to make sure everything was fresh in everyone’s minds. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ralph “E.T.” Taylor, 628th Mission Support Group deputy commander and JB lead for this project. “We are looking at potentially adding one more day of instruction to be able to ensure we capture the most effective skills needed for combat. Our Army National Guard partners are very enthusiastic about the course and we are all looking forward to the next one potentially in the early spring of 2017.
“At the moment, this is solely a JB Charleston program,” he continued. “We are going report feedback to higher headquarters once we collect all the data, solidify the program and, hopefully, inspiring other bases to benchmark off what we started.”