Military News

Monday, November 30, 2015

Real-life training prepares Airmen for real-world threats

by By Senior Airman Kate Thornton
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

11/25/2015 - RAF MILDENHALL, England  -- As Airmen shuffle into the classroom with a general consensus to simply endure yet another "death by PowerPoint," Staff Sgts. Michael Garrison and Daniel Montgomery, 100th Security Forces Squadron trainers, prepare to teach valuable defenses against a very real threat: active shooters.

The difference with this expeditionary active shooter training is its emphasis on threats at deployed locations, as well as during travel to and from deployments. This new training was implemented Oct. 1, 2015, to prepare deploying Airmen for an environment where firearms are potentially more prevalent, and where they might be armed, appointing them to protect themselves and others from active shooters.

"When we were tasked to create this training, we could've just done the slideshow, but we wanted people to be afraid," Garrison said. "We wanted to use simulated-munitions so they'll have the mindset to not get shot."

Like most formal training, there was a PowerPoint presentation and even a short YouTube video featuring the "run, hide or fight," instructions from the Department of Homeland Security, but then the Airmen were forced outside of their comfort zone and into the shoot-house.

"With the state of things in the world right now, we all need a heightened sense of awareness," said Tech. Sgt. Richard Maurer, 100th Maintenance Group NCO in charge of the maintenance operation center and recent student of the training.

Airmen from all career fields are participating in the training - the only requirement is to be qualified to deploy.

When in a deployed location there's a possibility that service members from any branch of the military, including foreign military members, could be armed. This leaves room for error and heroism. After Airmen first enter the shoot-house, they're taught a series of tactical movements during an active shooter threat. Students are taught this purely for defense - not to pursue taking down the active shooter. They would use these movements to run, hide or fight, but if armed, they are then obligated to protect those around them who are unarmed in their attempt to do so.

"I've never had this type of training before," Maurer said. "The use of simulated-munitions made it so much more realistic."

There have been multiple threats in the world recently, some involving active shooters, and nobody really knows how they'll react in that exact moment, but this training is designed to help.

"In the past, we used the rubber guns and said 'bang bang'," Montgomery said. "When you actually have simulated-munitions flying at you, your senses kick in and you can know even just a fraction of how you might react in a real situation."

Although it's more interactive than the average computer-based training, these are skills no one wants to use, but according to subject matter experts, these Airmen are ready.

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