CTMC prepares rescue Airmen for the high-end fight

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A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the Combat Team Member Course rappels during a training scenario at Tanque Verde Falls, Tucson, Arizona, Aug. 14, 2020. The CTMC trains Airmen in a variety of skills to ensure combat readiness for the high-end fight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)
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The 68th Rescue Squadron hosted an iteration of the Combat Team Member Course throughout the state of Arizona from June 22 to Aug. 21, 2020.

The CTMC is tasked to provide new Pararescuemen and combat rescue officers with advanced skills applicable across the wide range of rescue mission sets they may face downrange. Through long hours of intense training, this course put 24 deployable rescue Airmen into the fight, ready to execute the mission.

“This course is designed to provide Pararescuemen mission qualification training and traditionally hard to get five-level training line items,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Matthew Arnold, 68th RQS commander. “By the time students graduate, they will be competent and confident team members that are ready to go downrange and tackle any rescue scenario.”

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the Combat Team Member Course perform a parachute jump at Lake Theodore Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Arizona, July 29, 2020. Airmen in the CTMC perform various training throughout the course to include parachuting, firing weapons and medical treatment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

This course, the largest iteration yet, hosted 24 students from across Air Combat Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, United States Air Forces Europe and Air Force Reserve Command. It also assisted in total force training through integrating the Air Force National Guard by providing mission qualification training to their Pararescuemen.

“This course helps grow confidence in those basic team member skills by building a solid foundation,” said Staff Sgt. John Morgan, 48th RQS pararescueman. “Being exposed to what your element leaders and team leaders are going to be expecting of you, whether in the battlefield or back of an aircraft, makes you a better team member and gives a better idea of what to expect in a deployed environment.”

The nine week course trains a variety of skill sets to include the following: dive; small unit tactics; marksmanship; medical; land and maritime parachute insertion; land and water rotary wing operations; technical rescue; land navigation; and survival, evasion, resistance and escape training. Throughout the phases of training, the students completed over 2,600 upgrade training items and 599 total jumps in six locations around the state of Arizona.

“This course helps get new PJs on the same page out the gate,” said Morgan. “Different units have different standard operating procedures, but this course teaches doctrine, which sets up a new pararescueman with that baseline knowledge that has been taught for years.”

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the Combat Team Member Course climb a ladder during training at Lake Theodore Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Arizona, Aug. 5, 2020. Airmen trained skills including hoisting and rappelling into a simulated contested area in a variety of settings including day and night, as well as on water and land. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

The 68th RQS is a Guardian Angel formal training unit that trains students after they finish the “pipeline,” which is the technical training that potential rescue Airmen complete to learn the skills they will need in the operational Air Force.

“The military and the world needs our graduates, and we could not afford to be deterred by COVID-19,” said Arnold. “We followed the guidance of our leadership and the CDC, and then we continued to focus on the little things. We practiced social distancing where we could, we utilized hand sanitizer, masks, thermometers and we harped on personal hygiene. When we did encounter things, we met as a team to discuss risk management and accepted risks where it made sense.”

The rescue mission incurs inherent dangers, so the instructors and 68th RQS leadership evaluated and implemented the best course of action against COVID-19 that led to the successful execution of the course with zero cases between the instructors and students. The 68th RQS is just one example of how the Air Force continues to adapt, overcome and build new levels of readiness that have not been reached before, regardless of what is happening in the world around us.

“The training is vitally important because it is some of the last training before they go downrange,” said Arnold. “Once these guys graduate our course, its game time. More times than not, students graduate and within months or even weeks these guys find themselves applying these skills in a real-world situation. The CTMC course gets after Air Force priorities by restoring readiness to operational units and producing exceptional leaders ready to execute the mission.”

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the Combat Team Member Course prepare to execute training at Marana Regional Airport, Marana, Arizona, Aug. 3, 2020. This alternate insertion and extraction training included hoisting, rappelling and using a quick rope to drop into a simulated contested area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Blake J. Gonzales)
A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the Combat Team Member Course receives instruction during training at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, June 26, 2020. CTMC gives combat search and rescue Airmen the opportunity to train on a wide variety of skills over a two month period. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)
A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the Combat Team Member Course aims his weapon during training at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, July 1, 2020. Airmen learned and executed small unit movement tactics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)
U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the Combat Team Member Course receive instruction during training at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, July 9, 2020. The CTMC is a two-month course designed for combat search and rescue Airmen as a part of their career progression training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)
U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the Combat Team Member Course carry a simulated injured person during training at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, July 9, 2020. The CTMC gave Airmen the opportunity to practice treating and evacuating injured personnel while addressing a variety of injuries and other challenges. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)
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