Increasing lethality: Defenders leverage innovation through training

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Chase Sousa
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs
On any given day – rain, shine or otherwise – the Airmen of the 501st Combat Support Wing’s two security forces squadrons are charged with protecting the thousands of personnel who enter and exit the wing’s seven geographically separated units.

Though it may seem like a daunting task, the 422nd and 423rd Security Forces Squadrons have risen to the challenge by leveraging innovation to improve training and readiness. These initiatives have resulted in several updates to the base’s entry control points, as well as other improvements designed to ensure the continued protection of the wing’s 2,500+ members.

For starters, training has had a total revamp with the first-ever integrated training initiatives with local Ministry Of Defence personnel and installations down at the 422nd Security Forces Squadron at RAF Croughton.

“We are working toward a quarterly firing mandate with trigger time being every three months,” said Tech. Sgt. Travis Beatty, 422nd SFS NCOIC of training. “Active shooter training is going to be something we do every quarter with about 30 to 35 Airmen going to Bicester Garrison.”

The 422nd SFS will also be utilizing the nearby Otmoor Firing Range for live-fire proficiency firing.

“We just started the Otmoor Firing Range this month; it’s a proficiency firing course,” said Beatty. “We built our own course of fire and train on how to utilize weapons at different distances all the way from 3 meters to 300 meters. The range has the capability to go as far as we want up to 600 meters and it’s really cool for these guys that have never shot father than 25 meters to train outside in the elements. That includes rain, wind, gravity and humidity and the effects it has on trajectory. I’ve been in for 10 years, and this is the first place I’ve seen that has that capability.”

Soon the 422nd SFS will be equipped with a brand new Milo System, which put Airmen in a simulated environment using mock guns and nonlethal alternatives.

“The Milo System is a simulation screen that we put Airmen in with a pre-programed scenario and they will go through that scenario with use of force tactics,” said Beatty. “Airmen can use lethal force or non-lethal force depending on the scenario, and as instructors, we can change the scenario at any time to throw in variables. We also have the capability to film our own scenarios in our own buildings here at Croughton which allows specialized training.”

Dissuading potential gate runners is an important part of 422nd SFS training. Airmen train with real purchased junk cars to conduct high-risk traffic stops.

“It’s a tremendous benefit using old junk cars because it allows Airmen to actually shoot at the cars and learn how to utilize a car for protection,” said Beatty. “We train for gate runners but also wanted to go above and beyond the Air Force minimum.”

Over at the 423rd SFS, the training and innovation revamp is also underway.

“One of the things that recently changed was our shooting requirements, so we only shot twice a year but now we shoot quarterly,” said Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Tidwell, 423rd SFS NCOIC of training. “So now two more times each year we do extra weapon manipulation to make sure everyone is getting more training and more comfortable with their weapon.”

The 423rd SFS is also working toward a dedicated training facility.

“We have a training complex out at Molesworth and we’re currently upgrading that so we can use it more frequently,” said Tidwell. “We do force-on-force exercises there, squad movement training as well as a dedicated combative lab so we can do more hands-on.”

These readiness initiatives aren’t only at the manager level; they also play a part in everyday operations.

“We do a lot of flight-level training and exercises with Airmen at the gates” said Tidwell. “Flight chiefs also conduct training everyday on shift and a lot of that is gate runner training.”

The 501st CSW’s security forces training, innovation and readiness across the wing is a constantly shifting and evolving initiative focused on one goal: lethality.