Military News

Monday, March 02, 2015

4th SFS pioneers ACC training program

by Airman 1st Class Aaron J. Jenne
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/2/2015 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- The Air Force has put a premium on innovation symbolized by the Airmen powered by innovation initiative.

The 4th Security Forces Squadron took that idea seriously and pioneered the first fully functional range training complex in Air Combat Command - now the standard to which security forces training is measured.

Andy Anderson, 4th SFS lead security forces instructor, said he noticed a need for an improved training environment and set out to revolutionize training for the 4th SFS Airmen.

"We used to train in our squadron building," Anderson said. "It just wasn't realistic training. We wanted the Airmen to be able to deal with a person in training like they would in the real world. That's why we decided to build a facility specifically for training."

In 2013, Anderson used the squadron's end-of-year funds to build the shoot house, the first stage of the evolving range complex. Its features set the stage for a more accurate training environment that allows Airmen to respond to numerous simulated scenarios in the same manner they would respond in real life.

"Any building they might have to go into can be duplicated there: long hallways like the commissary, base Exchange or med group (4th Medical Group); stairwells for the 4th Mission Support Group and 4th Fighter Wing Headquarters," Anderson said. "We can't just go up to the wing commander's office and bust his door in during an exercise, but our training facility allows us to practice that and any other scenario we can think of."

Col. Erik Rundquist, Headquarters ACC director of security forces, visited the 4th SFS in 2014. According to Anderson, Rundquist was impressed with the potential of the squadron-built training facility.

"When Colonel Rundquist saw our training facility, he took all my drawings, pictures and plans, compiled everything and sent it to every other ACC base, so they could benchmark off of us," Anderson said. "He has completely bought in to the effectiveness of our range facility, making a multi-million dollar purchase to get one at every ACC base. It started here, just for us to improve our training, and it's taken off, already spanning ACC-wide, and pushing out to possibly become an Air Force-wide initiative."

Now, everything that's in Air Force training facilities is designed around our facility, Anderson said.

The wood-framed building features a breaching door, inspector catwalk and a movable wall system that changes the interior layout to fit training requirements.

Recently, the range expanded to include two metal, sea-land container buildings, which feature two-story construction, interior stairwells and balconies. According to Anderson, the new buildings have improved training by simulating the conditions defenders may face every day on this installation.

Also included in the facility is an ammunition issue point capable of issuing weapons and ammunition, and a shoot-move-communicate range, which allows Airmen to practice tactical movements, providing cover and advancing.

Good training requires instruction and evaluation, Anderson said. Plans are currently underway to mount 36 closed-circuit cameras throughout the facility. The unit also has several helmet-mounted cameras to record the defender's point of view as events unfold. Instructors will watch live feeds from all angles of the training in a classroom projected for completion in the fall of 2015, and debrief the defenders about errors and competencies.

Anderson also stated realism is a key component of good training. To aid in realism, instructors dress in costumes, a public address system plays sound tracks tailored to the training scenario, and simulated gunfire mimics the thick of battle. Simply changing the costumes and sounds played changes the perceived location to one of multiple foreign or local locations.

Currently, the 6-acre facility accommodates monthly training for all security forces members and is open for small unit training any time of the day or night.

"Before, all we had was classroom training," Anderson said. "Nobody liked it, and it really wasn't good training. Now, when we go out to the training facility, sometimes I need to tell them to leave. Now, they want to be there."

Senior Airman Daniel Shores, 4th SFS patrolman, said the training has been greatly beneficial to him since the facility was built added to this sentiment.

"I can't even remember what training was like before the shoot house," Shores said. "I have always felt confident doing my job protecting this base and its assets, but now I feel a lot more proficient. I can see the benefit of training, and it's fun to get out there and clear houses and run through scenarios in a realistic environment."

The training facility also accommodates 4th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal members, and has drawn the interest of several local law enforcement agencies. Anderson said organizations as far away as Raleigh and Wake Forest have expressed interest in training with 4th SFS Airmen.

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