by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons
116th ACW Public Affairs
7/9/2014 - TUNNEL HILL, Ga. -- Heavy
machine gun fire, rifle and pistol competitions, counter insurgency
operations and military operation urban training and were the order of
business for the Georgia Air National Guard's 116th Security Forces
Squadron as they completed 10 days of annual training at the Catoosa
Training Site in North Georgia.
"Annual weapons qualification was our primary objective at the range,
but Catoosa provided additional training opportunities that directly
correlated to what we do as ground forces when we deploy," said Senior
Master Sgt. William Greenway, 116th SFS manager.
In addition to firing ranges that accommodated all the weaponry the
Airmen were required to qualify on, the site included a mock village
similar to ones common in urban warfare environments.
"With us being a rapid deployment unit, honing our skills is a must,
especially for the younger Airmen who have been on few deployments or
who have never deployed in a combat environment before," said Master
Sgt. Richard Ross, a squad leader with the 116th SFS.
"For some of our younger Airmen," shared Ross, "this is the first time
they've received ASO training, or what we call outside the wire
training. This will be the foundation that is crucial to them if and
when they get orders to deploy in a combat situation."
Airmen with the unit reiterated how important this training is, as a
number of the members participating in this event have been on multiple
deployments in combat environments around the world.
For Airman 1st Class Paula Helms, just recently graduated from technical
school, this was her first chance to perform annual training with her
"This training has helped give me a refresher of things I learned at
tech school and I've been able to learn new things from the more
experienced noncommissioned officers," said Helms. "Since so many of
them have deployed, they have real-life experience to share."
In addition to the preparation the training provided for overseas
deployments, many of the principles and techniques learned come into
play during times when the Georgia Guardsmen are called on for domestic
"Members of the 116th Security Forces were the first group to set up
operations in the Lower 9th Ward during Hurricane Katrina," shared Capt.
Robert Brumfield, 116th Security Forces Squadron operations officer.
"We did some of the same type of things there, like building clearing
and rescuing people, which we trained on here."
"Having these types of facilities where everything is built and in place
allowed our folks to hit the ground running and meet our training
requirements in a shorter amount of time," said Brumfield.
On any given day, the reverberation of heavy machines guns, grenade
launchers, shotguns, rifles, pistols and the yelling of troop commands
could be heard ringing throughout the hills of the 1600 plus acre site.
Battling high heat, humidity, insects, and rain, the Airmen were given
different scenarios and missions meant to mimic real life situations
common for Security Forces. They were tested on their ability to
communicate and react as a team while remaining flexible and adapting to
the harsh environment.
"We're always looking for opportunities for more and better quality
training," shared Greenway. "We train our people hard because of the job
we do. It could mean the difference between life or death."