Every Airman takes an oath to protect and serve the citizens of the U.S. To achieve this, they not only need to know their job, but also be ready to fight when called upon.
A part of this is Airmen knowing their weapons inside and out. That’s where the 56th Security Forces Squadron Combat Arms instructors come in at Luke Air Force Base.
“Our mission is to ensure everyone is combat-ready, whether it is for a deployment or a permanent change of station,” said Staff Sgt. Luis Valentin, 56th SFS Combat Arms instructor. “We do this by ensuring they are certified and qualified on the weapon needed to complete whatever task their line of work requires of them.”
Students begin their day in the classroom to learn the basics, from how the weapon works to handling it.
“In the classroom, we provide detailed information about each weapon to ensure each Airman becomes familiar and comfortable with it,” Valentin said. “Then we start to do more hands-on tasks such as loading and unloading the weapon in addition to disassembling and assembling it.”
To further prepare the students, combat arms instructors lead them through combat scenarios showing them the importance of keeping their eyes downrange, different ways to reload their weapons and more.
After learning the fundamentals, students are each given a set of rounds before making their way to the firing range.
“My goal for students at the range isn’t to become expert shooters,” Valentin said. “It’s to get those who are unfamiliar with weapons to not only qualify but to pick up their weapon and be effective.”
Combat arms instructors hold classes five days a week – three spent on rifle training, one spent on M9 pistol training and Fridays are spent on those who failed or didn’t pass the first time or one-on-one training, Valentin said. They also conduct special courses, which include shotgun and sniper rifle training.
“We are capable of qualifying students on the M9 pistol, M4 carbine, M16A2 rifle, M870 shotgun, M24 sniper rifle and M107 barrett sniper rifle, M240B machine gun and more,” Valentin said.
For one student, taking the course has not only kept him up-to-date on the M9 but better prepared him for his deployment.
“The course has made me more confident in handling the M9,” said Tech. Sgt. Aaron Kain, 56th Force Support Squadron manpower analyst. “I learned how to keep calm and orient my sites to get better results downrange. Even though I qualified on the M9 previously, it’s important to be refreshed on the weapon, especially if you’re going downrange.”
Combat arms Airmen ensure all Airmen and civilian personnel are ready to fly, flight and win.
“What we do is vital to the mission because we need mission-ready Airmen to fill those slots if called upon to deploy,” Valentin said. “To provide that continuity, you need someone who is well informed, trained and ready to fight, and that’s where we step in. Our primary job as Airmen is to protect and serve and to do this, we need to be armed.”