137th SFS outside the wire for AT days
By Senior Airman Brigette Waltermire, 137th Air Refueling Wing
/ Published August 07, 2016
WILL ROGERS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Okla. -- Airmen from the 137th Air Refueling Wing Security Forces Squadron transported personnel off base for annual training from July 29 to Aug. 5, 2016, at Camp Gruber near Braggs, Oklahoma.
Around 40 Airmen, including instructors, conducted a comprehensive training course of close-combat, weapons, navigation, military operations, urban terrain and other duties that are part of squadron readiness requirements.
"By being in new environments, the Airmen troubleshoot problems that they don't normally see, which is going to get them to be a dynamic team and creative thinkers," said 1st Lt. Johnny Riaz, 137 SFS Operations Officer.
As the teams dealt with insurgents in a mock compound, their efforts to verbally communicate and regroup were undercut by the staccato popping of blank rounds, the pungent release of M18 smoke bombs and the piercing whistle of simulated mortars. However, at the debriefing sessions, it was clear that every action was executed, remembered and reviewed with intent.
"Our career is fifteen years of boredom, fifteen seconds of sure terror. We've got to be able to react when it's time," said Riaz
The chaotic, simulated urban environment offered SFS members opportunities to conduct a variety of indoor and outdoor exercises that both mirror the combat conditions they might encounter while deployed, as well as remove the day-to-day distractions from home-station assignments.
"This covers the broader aspect of things as far as being a force multiplier with the Air Force Special Operations Command mission and the increase of the [deployment] rotations that we're going to get," said Hancock.
Although it can be difficult to ensure all personnel are current with training and qualifications, the 137 SFS training improved for both new Guardsmen and those with prior active duty security forces experience.
"They come out here with their full gear on, just like they would be if they were at an actual post deployed," said Tech. Sgt. Cassandra Essary, 137 SFS NCO in charge of combat arms. "It's really important for them that they get this opportunity every year - especially before they deploy."
Although they cannot spend two weeks at Camp Gruber every year, the squadron utilizes every chance they get to improve their readiness.
"Us being able to pull away and make this a priority is a direct reflection on our command's willingness to expend resources and energy to make this happen," said Riaz.