Defenders stay current, qualified and mission ready

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Matthew Burke
  • 914th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
This summer, U.S. Air Force Reserve members from the 914th Security Forces Squadron here conducted a seven-day home station training package focusing on aspects of their deployable mission.

This training consisted of: a two-day active shooter course, Expeditionary Combat Skills, a deployment training exercise, convoy operations and the proper utilization of expeditionary shelters.

"This was my first time in the field with this unit," said Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Clancy, superintendent of training for the 914 SFS.  "I was impressed with the advanced level of training we provided for our guys."

The active shooter course focused on the weapons handling tenets of shoot, move, and communicate and was conducted using a non-lethal training ammunition.  It culminated with a force on force active shooter exercise with role playing members provided by the Monroe County Sheriff's Department acting as opposing forces.

"The potential for real world application really hits home when conducting this type of training," said Clancy.

As the training package progressed, it focused on individual Expeditionary Combat Skills.  The 914th Aeromedical Staging Squadron provided a combat lifesaver course that focused on the employment of combat lifesaver bags, carried by personnel to provide specialized capabilities, in each 13 Airman Security Forces Squad.

Additionally, flight trainers provided training to the 914th SFS on the M249 Squad Automatic Rifle and M240B Machine gun.  Instruction was given on the tactical radio and Defense Advanced GPS Receiver known as a D.A.G.R and finally, unit members practiced tactical vehicle familiarization, convoy operations and tactical convoy operations including vehicle recovery.   These convoy skills are important because they are common in a deployed environment.

During the 914 SFS Annual Tour the unit received an Operations Order from their operations officer, Major William Gourlay, that simulated an insertion to a forward deployed location at the Buffalo International Airport.  Personnel arrived early for preparation and were weighed and processed through the 30th Aerial Port Squadron. The 914 SFS then moved out for a tactical Engines Running On-load (ERO) onto a waiting Niagara C-130 Hercules from the 328th Operations Squadron, and were transported to the Buffalo international Airport.  Upon arrival, they prepared to move in a Tactical Convoy back to the simulated Forward Operating Base (FOB) located on NFARS.

"The troops were most excited about the fly away," said Gourlay.  "It was exciting for personnel who have never deployed and realistic, even for those who have."

However, due to an unforeseen circumstance, the Buffalo International Airport was also hosting a tour of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) B-24 Liberator, the legendary World War II bomber.  A pause to training was called and the Airmen were given a brief of the Aircraft and its history by Mr. Nic Winkeldorf of the CAF. It was a memorable experience for the Airmen assigned to NFARS to see and be connected to their heritage in such a unique way.

After the direction was given for a training restart, the 914 SFS continued their mission with a Convoy Exercise in armored HMMWVs led by convoy commander 1st Lt. Brian Rhoney to the simulated FOB located on NFARS.  Personnel immediately rolled into realistic training scenarios out to the simulated village and training area on base. Several missions were given to the 914 SFS squads involving scenarios utilizing mounted and dismounted patrols into the village and a recovery operation involving a downed pilot.  This required multiple days as the 914 SFS received classes from the 914th Explosive Ordinance Disposal detachment on recognition and current tactics, techniques and procedures for combating Improvised Explosive Devices.

"I have a strong belief in rehearsals," said Gourlay.  "It's important to work together (with other units) to learn each other's capabilities and limitations in a training environment."

The training was deemed a huge success by everyone involved.  The Defenders of the 914th Security Forces Squadron completed their assigned tasks in accordance with the Annual Training Plan.  Additionally, the planning and execution that included several other squadrons from the 914th Airlift Wing as well as support from the Army National Guard and a civilian contractor was well done at all levels.  Many different organizations were able to train and contribute alongside the Security Forces Airmen, once again proving the power, flexibility, and relevance of Team Niagara.

"I was impressed with the level of cooperation from other units and the motivation of our (914 SFS) troops," said Gourlay.  "Our mission is to provide combat-ready forces and this training ensures we can do that to the highest degree."