Training Provides Real-World Feedback
By Staff Sgt. Michael Matkin, 161 ARW Public Affairs
/ Published August 14, 2011
Phoenix Sky Harbor Air National Guard Base -- Servicemembers from the 161st Air Refueling Wing Security Forces Squadron received close quarters tactical training in urban environments during the August 2011 Unit Training Assembly at a local "airsoft" arena, where recreational replica firearms shoot plastic rounds.
"The course is designed to take [servicemembers'] skills they have learned and apply those skills in an urban environment," said Michael Simpson event planner and safety coordinator.
Having the opportunity to apply military operations in urban terrain with airsoft [guns] was very beneficial for many reasons, said Staff Sgt. Eric Jackson Security Forces Team Leader.
"Using airsoft technology provides a lot of good feedback," he said. "When you use laser technology you might hear a sound and see a laser, but you really don't get direct feedback; however, when you get hit by an airsoft round you get direct feedback, such as: 'Ouch! I just got hit. I need to move. I need to find better cover.'"
He also said that training in a built up city situation gave their squadron the ability to apply their training to urban situations, such as breaching windows, doorways and different types of hallways.
The arena was set up in three different urban environments facilitating three unique training scenarios.
The first scenario consisted of a hostage rescue. Multiple insurgents had secured two civilian hostages inside of a house. The team was required to make entry, neutralize the hostage takers and rescue the two hostages.
The second scenario was an active shooter response at a government facility. The teams had to move into the area, neutralize the active shooters and then secure the area so that first responders could come in and treat the wounded.
The third scenario was titled "IED Alley". During this training exercise the SF team had to move through a hostile neighborhood to a safe extraction point. The area contained multiple Improvised Explosive Devices and enemy shooters in urban locations, such as doorways and windows. The team's objective was to get through the area and secure their extraction in under ten minutes.
Mr. Simpson said he was very impressed with the way the servicemembers adapted their training to the training scenarios they had set up.
"We saw the teams focus on the mission and not get distracted by chasing down the opposing force," he said. "The teams had a very high morale going into this training, which really helped them be successful."
Sergeant Jackson agreed saying, "Having the opportunity to go through this kind of training was a great boost to morale. It was a fun team-building exercise, but we also learned a lot through direct application of our training and I think we did really well. We don't work together full-time as squads, we have conflicting civilian lives, so for us to come together and own the operational floor was really great."