EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska – The 354th Security Forces Squadron and its Airmen were selected to be beta testers for a new Security Forces Qualification Course. Eielson Air Force Base is one of 15 installations participating in this trial.
This course is designed to train and test Defenders, rookies and veterans, on how to properly and accurately use their firearms in the line of duty. Currently, Defenders are completing the same firearm qualification course as all other career fields. This proposed course would be designed specifically for security forces.
“The new course is more challenging because it trains Defenders in a way we’ve never had to before,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nicole Ankerbrand Robinson, the 354th SFS Combat Arms noncommissioned officer in charge. “To my knowledge, this is the first time security forces will have its own weapons qualification course. This course is strict and difficult, as it should be. Defenders are the first ones in and the last ones out in emergency situations, so knowing how to use a firearm tactically is vital to us.”
The 354th SFS Combat Arms instructors here are in charge of training this new course to Defenders. The course is broken into four blocks and will be spaced out once a quarter similar to normal security forces weapons training.
“This new course is tailored for security forces and the things we could see in the field,” Ankerbrand Robinson said. “The firing positions and drills in this course are things that Defenders should know how to do. Rather than standing in a shooting lane, firing at a target and going home, this course makes Defenders use cover and teaches them how to be tactical.”
The first block is focused on the fundamentals of basic carbine marksmanship. Defenders will be taught how to properly adjust their gunsights, fire from multiple positions using their dominant and non-dominant hand, fire with chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear protection equipment, and how to quickly fix a misfire or weapon malfunction in a firefight.
Block II teaches Defenders about short range combat. The Defenders will be taught how to transition from their carbine to their handgun, tactical engagement techniques, engaging targets from the left, right and behind the defender, engaging multiple threats, proper use of cover, transitioning from multiple firing positions, and stacked firing with a wingman. Some of these techniques and firing positions are brand new to the career field but could hold a big tactical advantage in the event of a firefight.
The third block trains Defenders how to engage targets in limited visibility environments. A limited visibility environment is a setting that involves darkness, this can be a challenge for Eielson Defenders due to extended daylight hours in the Alaskan summers. To pass the block, Defenders must learn how to engage targets from multiple positions using a laser aiming device and a flashlight.
Block IV is the actual qualifying part of this new course. Defenders will take what they learned from the previous blocks and use that to complete the final block to be fully qualified on the M4 carbine and the M9 pistol or M18 modular handgun system.
Eielson Defenders completed Block IV to set a baseline and will train on blocks one through three then repeat the final block to see the results of the training.
“After completing this part of the course, I thought it was better than the old course,” said Senior Airman Colin Jones, a 354th SFS training instructor. “It gave us more opportunities to train on things we don’t normally do on a daily basis and it will better prepare us in case we are ever in an active shooter situation.”
Throughout the course, Eielson Defenders and Combat Arms instructors will be giving feedback directly to the U.S. Air Force Security Forces Center at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Their feedback will directly impact the future of all Air Force Defenders.
“This is the first trial of this course. There are a lot of different steps to creating a weapons qualification course such as tweaking round counts and adding time for reloads,” said Ankerbrand Robinson. “The Combat Arms team is excited to be a part of security forces history and we hope that our feedback and results will help the career field years down the road.”