ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. --
The Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. David Goldfein, has proclaimed 2019 as the Year of the Defender and Air Force leadership has put additional resources into security forces this year, including upgraded kits and weapons, and better training under stressful conditions.
As a direct result of the CSAF’s direction, Lt. Col. Raymond Sackmann, commander of the 177th Fighter Wing Security Forces Squadron, created a training event for 177th FW leadership at the Transportation Security Administration firing range in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. Nov. 5, 2019.
Qualifying on the M4 rifle and M9 pistol, and also taking the security forces proficiency fire course, Wing leaders were educated on the roles, responsibilities and challenges of all Defenders in the USAF and ANG, focusing on 177FW specific mission sets.
With 2020 being named the Year of Integrated Defense, security forces are getting more trigger time, which makes them more lethal,” said Lt. Col. Raymond Sackmann, 177th Security Forces Squadron commander. “Going through the course allows the leadership to learn what that means and how we do it.”
The training exercise also demonstrated the Wing’s Combat Arms Training and Maintenance capabilities across the many weapons in which the Wing maintains qualification and familiarity.
“Right now we qualify once a year,” said Sackmann. With the Year of Integrated Defense, the Air Force is trying to bring a layered defense and 3D defense of the installation, as well as setting up and defending a bare base. The more time we have shooting, trigger time, and familiarizing, the more lethal we become.”
While Defenders train to adapt to more modern base defense concepts, they still have to deal with the physical strain that comes with their occupation.
“Carrying their body armor and their duty weapons, the M4 and the M9, as well as all the ammunition that goes with it and all the other security forces gear…folks that don’t have to carry all that, day in, day out for 14 hours per day don’ realize when the see a defender standing there on their post, how much gear is involved and the weight and the toll it takes on the body,” stated Sackmann. “That’s what we’re finding out, with the Reconstitute The Defender initiative and some other studies, is that the defenders are coming up with some of the most injuries – hip, back, neck - from carrying all of the gear for long periods of time.”
The high quality firing ranges built and maintained by the Transportation Security Administration, and utilized by multiple federal agencies, saves the 177th and the ANG significant funds annually, by eliminating the need to build and maintain a separate tactical weapons range.
The realistic experience at the TSA range also educated the Wing leadership on the strengths and challenges of a combined full-time and Drill Status work force. Two of the CATM Airmen involved in the training event were Drill Status Guardsmen, and law enforcement officers, in the local community.
”This relationship between Airmen, employers and the community is a tremendous strength, but also presents challenges in high-demand, high-stress career fields during periods of increased operations tempo,” said Col Bradford Everman, wing commander of the 177th FW. “It’s amazing to get a feel for what our defenders do every day, being ready to employ weapons, being ready to defend the base and legitimately how hard or how much work it is to just be ready to go. And so, walking through all of these drills, shooting the weapons, carrying the weapons, and with all of the safety procedures, it’s a good feel for what Airmen need to be able to do at home and abroad.”