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Security Forces Academy upgrades training course

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Posing the largest potential impact on the Air Force's combat and security operations the world over, the Security Forces Academy recently instituted a new training course better equipped to prepare Airmen for its current mission.

"The new course is an enormous change, like a jump from the Vietnam era to what conditions are now," said Capt. Lance Englebert, 343rd Training Squadron, director of operations. "It focuses on what the guys are doing now down range."

The redesign includes a reordering of training blocks, an increase in training, change in training philosophy and introduction of the latest simulation technology available.

The hope of the new course's braintrust - William Arnell, training development element chief; Roy Gutierrez, training manager; and Rhonda Battles, course manager - is that the Air Force's largest career field will be able to mold future generations of highly-skilled, critical-thinking and battle-ready Airmen.

The 65-day course includes elements of career-field orientation, weapons training, ground combat skills, basic air base defense tactics, law enforcement and additional survival tactics training.

The technical school is now more advanced.

It goes beyond telling Airmen what to do - an approach Ms. Battles refers to as "obedience to comprehension" - and starts fostering a decision-making mind set.

At the same time, Ms. Battles said, training continues to promote Basic Military Training's field mentality.

"Just like every Soldier has soldier skills first, every Airman has to be able to go down range," said Ms. Battles, a prior Security Forces career-field instructor.

Following that approach means putting Airman in complicated combat situations, in this case facilitated by virtual combat training.

At Camp Bullis, Security Forces students are dropped off in a mock deployment environment to engage in convoy mission and base defense tactics training.

At the Virtual Combat Convoy Training facility, groups of five Airmen hop into one of four Humvees.
The 360-degree digital screen inside each room places the convoy in real world locales in Kuwait, Qatar, Afghanistan and Iraq, performing more than 80 operation scenarios.

One benefit of such a simulator is its realistic, but also digital, nature.

Captain Englebert said the convoy simulator "saves money and time.

"It offers the opportunity to engage Airmen in simulated environments and missions, while allowing for multiple repetitions."

The man responsible for turning Ms. Battles' training concept into reality, Mr. Gutierrez also explained simulation is relevant to younger generations of Airmen.

"It's the age of computers," he said, expounding on the proliferation of personal information devices available, from iPods to PS3s.

"It's what they understand."

Ms. Battles added that technical students get to see and feel what it's like to drive through a village before they actually deploy.

Overall, the three managers use the rule of repetition and recency to guide the career-field's new training schedule and maintain comprehension.

Students perform comprehensive evaluations up until the final four days, while the law enforcement training is now the final training section to ensure higher recall of instruction once the Airmen go to their duty bases.

The first new training course in nearly five years, the three managers agree training is an ongoing process of reflection.

It's a process of observing current missions and deployment locations, analyzing training data and adjusting techniques to meet the needs of today's Security Forces Airmen.