919th SOSFS participate in Integrated Defense Leadership Course

  • Published
  • By U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Dylan Gentile
  • 919th Special Operations Wing

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Leaves crunched under the slow-moving crawl of Airmen crouched under the canopy of ferns above them. The Airmen gathered notes on their opposition from a distance, and then regrouped in the dense forest to share information and plan their attack. 

Members from the 919th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron made their way to the 910th Airlift Wing in Ohio to play the role of opposition forces during the Integrated Defense Leadership Course. The Airmen learned critical offensive skills during the training while delving into defensive techniques and reconnaissance.

“Fellow instructors and I designed the course a little more than a year ago to be constantly changing and adapting,” said Tech Sgt. Adam Cutright, IDLC cadre and 919th SOSFS noncommissioned officer in charge of training. “It’s difficult for our security force members to get all their required training done on drill weekends. This training allows us to complete most of the required tasks with hands-on experience in the field.”

IDLC is a way for Air Force Reserve security force members to meet their annual training-hour requirements and maintain currency as a skilled-fighting force. The Airmen join members of other units to share experiences and knowledge in student-led teams.

“The unique hands-on-training time in the field is a huge benefit,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Blake, 919th SOSFS defender and IDLC student. “I’ve seen more growth in my fellow Airmen throughout IDLC than over several [drill weekends].”

The 514th Security Forces Squadron, 934th SFS, 926th SFS, 710th SFS, and 910th SFS all trained alongside Duke Field’s defenders for the two-week course. Some days they donned their camouflage face paint and on other days they wore face shields in preparation for the unique learning experience.

As Air Force Special Operations Command and the defense environment shifts toward a peer-to-peer fighting model, trainers wanted to emulate the new style in IDLC. Student teams were put against one another and tasked with outsmarting and outfighting the other. 

“This course is important in helping us get away from an old security training mindset,” said Cutright. “The career’s future will no longer be as much of a law-enforcement model, instead we're moving towards being base-defense operators.”

As part of a new training model, the security force members dragged white boards into the middle of the forest, scrawled with information on security positions, personalities, and anticipated schedules. The 919th opposition forces had to hide and maneuver around patrols defending the “friendly” team’s encampment. The encampment consisted of shallow holes surrounded by sandbags the Airmen constructed, called a Defensive Fighting Position. 

“This training helped us get experience in a different fighting style geared towards today’s defense climate,” said Blake. “I’ve had the opportunity to engage in troop-leading procedures, writing operational orders, and other unique skillsets.”

Some days ended with a colorful array of smoke-filled smog and live fire as the security force members mastered the remodeled art of combat. 

“The last two weeks were non-stop, and action packed,” said Blake. “The lessons have been very in-depth, with a very well-tuned course structure.”

While the students got hands-on experience in a dynamic environment, the instructors were operating strategically behind the scenes, thinking about Air Force Reserve Command’s long-term readiness. Exercise planners used IDLC to gauge where other security force squadrons throughout AFRC were with training and equipment, so they could give helpful feedback to the member’s units back home.

By the end of the course, the miles of forest floor felt by combat boots and the buckets of ammunition casing left from rifle chambers indicated new experiences and skills for students and cadre alike.

“I’m very proud of my students, I love seeing light bulbs going off in their heads and the evolution of their training,” said Cutright. “Even in leadership qualities, it makes me happy to see young Airmen leave here with so much instilled confidence.”