CAMP SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. --
Members of the 161st Security Forces Squadron from Goldwater Air National Guard Base in Phoenix ventured out to Camp San Luis Obispo in central California to participate in an annual training exercise alongside three other Air National Guard units from Arizona and Illinois, July 30 to Aug. 9, 2017.
The multi-faceted training allowed more than 60 security forces defenders to add more experience to their resumes as they spent nearly two weeks bolstering their shooting, land navigation, and tactical movement skills alongside a diverse group of Air National Guard security forces professionals.
“The goal for the event was to link multiple security forces squadrons into a cohesive fighting force,” said Maj. Jeff Robertson, operations officer for the 161st Security Forces Squadron. “A multitude of combat and law-enforcement centric training iterations enables these teams to learn each other’s strengths and their respective experiences.”
With a vast array of experience and knowledge brought together in one training event, the Airmen were able to increase their inventory of tips and tricks. For some Airmen involved, the multiple-unit approach to training was a new experience that provided more than just instructional knowledge.
“I’ve never been to a training exercise like this before,” said Senior Airman Connor Icenogle, a security forces Airmen with the183rd Security Forces Squadron, from Springfield, Illinois. “I feel like I was able to improve my skills in building clearing tactics, weapons firing, and squad movements. I have trained on these skills with my home unit, but training on these skills with other units helped me learn new techniques. We all go through the same basic training, but we all pick up different tricks along the way and this allowed us to share them with one another.”
Regardless of the Airmen’s experience level, each was able to contribute to the training environment as well as take something away that can be shared with members of their home units.
“The skills we learned or practiced during this training exercise will not only be vital to supporting the mission downrange, but also at our home station,” said Staff Sgt. Nikole Oronia, a security forces Airmen with the 162nd Security Forces Squadron, from Tucson, Arizona. “It is our ultimate goal to take the knowledge gained here back with us and share it with other members of our home units to continually improve overall readiness and effectiveness.”
Camp San Luis Obispo hosted the training due to its accommodating infrastructure and access to the many training areas. The ideal terrain and realistic training ranges on post truly enhanced the training scenarios and allowed for the large group of Defenders to accomplish a large amount of training tasks effectively.
“A big advantage to having the training here is that the infrastructure and the surrounding terrain is perfect for training on squad movement, land navigation, and building-clearing procedures,” said Oronia. “Because they have everything in one location, we were really able to make the most of our limited training time out here.”
The numerous benefits of the multiple-unit training have definitely grown an interest with Defenders at the 161st SFS to look at planning similar exercises in the future.
“I have been to several joint-training events in my military career,” said Robertson. “However, as a Defender this has been the most beneficial and well executed training. I would love to see an expansion of this type of training environment. The vast deployment and civilian law-enforcement experiences from our Defenders provide realistic training scenarios that teach valuable skills.”