NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. —
In the desert just outside of Nellis Air Force Base, Airmen from the 99th Ground Combat Training Squadron instruct deploying security forces service members in urban combat operations at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain training village April 30.
Teaching these service members the tactics to stay alive and come back to their families before they deploy is what the job is all about, said Staff Sgt. Aaron Alvarado, a 99th GCTS integrated defense instructor.
The students learn various tactics and techniques to complete their missions, from entering a building and stacking up on a wall to how to react to contact in a village. The instructors show them how to handle detainees and enemy prisoners of war as well as teaching them how to react to local elders and local nationals in their areas of responsibility.
“The mission of the 99th GCTS is to train warfighters to better prepare them for what they might encounter while deployed,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Turknett, 99th GCTS integrated defense flight sergeant. “We give them the foundation needed to be able to operate in theater. We then test them by running them through a series of scenarios here in a controlled and safe environment where we can guide and critique them, and the only consequences are a little sweat instead of lives.”
The training consists of 23 core tasks that are mandated by Headquarters Air Force Security Forces Command with guidance from U.S. Central Command.
The basic foundation for the course is mounted operations, dismounted operations and base security, which consists of entry-control point operations, urban operations, and static defense.
Many people tend to overlook some of their training when they first come here because they think they have done it before, Alvarado said.
“The most important aspect of this job is making sure that the lowest ranking Airman receives all the knowledge that we are giving them,” Turknett said. “Most of the NCOs and senior NCOs have already deployed one or two times, so they have a good knowledge base of what they need to know in order to get the job done.”
Through the use of simulated munitions, which fire paint cartridges instead of bullets, and realistic settings, the instructors strive to provide Airmen with the most realistic experience possible.
“Once they go through the realism of something like simulated munitions, they realize that a lot can go wrong when something is actually getting fired at [them],” Alvarado said. “They are able to take [that] back and talk about the situations, and perform to a better level.”
Shooting at the trainees with simulated munitions makes them more cautious than firing a blank, where they are not getting hit by anything,
“I notice the students’ tactics are a bit tighter because they care about not getting hit by something rather than just shooting a blank off,” Alvarado said.
The course is open for attendance to all major commands and is primarily used to train security forces Airmen. Between 2,500 and 3,000 Airmen receive the training per year.
“It is extremely rewarding knowing that we have a direct impact on providing deployed commanders with well-trained troops that are able to accomplish the mission and return home safely,” Turknett said.