November 9, 2012

Staying proficient, staying ready

Master Sgt. Russell Martin
Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan
Air Force photograph by MSgt. Russell Martin
U.S. Air Force Capt. Bennet Burton, DMCA, Southern-Afghanistan, deployed from Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., puts his skills to the test during the final round of firing at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Sept. 17.

Airmen typically qualify on their primary weapons before deploying; however some airmen carrying out dangerous duties require follow-on qualifications while downrange.

TSgt. Lester Yost and SSgt. Nathan Warren, 451st Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron combat arms training and maintenance specialists, ensure that those airmen remain proficient on their weapons before going outside the wire.

“In order to carry a weapon when deployed, all airmen need to be current on their Air Force Form 522, (U.S. Air Force Ground Weapons Training Data form),” said Yost, deployed from the 633rd Security Forces Squadron, Langley Air Force Base, Va. “What we do is ensure those few folks that routinely go outside the wire, maintain a high proficiency on their assigned weapons.”

Airmen from security forces, contracting and the office of special investigations represent the majority of personnel who require additional weapons training due the risks they face. Members of these units take every opportunity to improve their abilities and marksmanship.

Recently, Yost and Warren facilitated a course of fire exercise for members of the Defense Contracting Management Agency here to aid in those efforts.

“This is a really big deal for us,” said Capt. Joshua Frederick, DCMA project lead. “We go in and out of the villages, and regularly bounce around to all the different (forward operating bases) and this is one of the few times we can take advantage of a range and stay proficient.”

Given that the crew must show proficiency quarterly, Warren and Yost decided to throw a twist on the event.

Everyone taking part in the training received 50 rounds of 9mm ammunition. Three magazines of 10, 10 and 14 rounds respectively, were loaded for the course of fire training. After the warm-up, the group would take their remaining 16 rounds, load them into two magazines for the last drill. Warren, a former member of the Air Force Sport Shooting Team, created smaller targets in various sizes, shapes and colors and offered up a competition for bragging rights amongst the group.

“It’s something we started back home not too long ago for the folks who have to fire on a regular basis,” said Warren, deployed from the 28th Security Forces Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. “It gives them an opportunity to not only stay proficient, but have a little bit of competition as well. “

But after all the rounds were spent, brass policed up, and targets taken down, it’s all about maintaining a high-level of accuracy and proficiency. It’s about being ready at all times.

“The team is expected to go wherever DOD service contracts are performed, and that means traveling to remote and dangerous locations throughout theater,” said Lt. Col. Louis Orndorff, DCMA Southern-Afghanistan commander. “With heightened security concerns, it is necessary for the team to be familiar, comfortable, and always ready to defend themselves in case a situation calls for employing their issued weapons. This training session gave my team the opportunity to remain focused and proficient; in case the need to use their weapon ever arises.”

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