Total Force CATM instructors work together to qualify Airmen
By Staff Sgt. Samantha Krolikowski, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 28, 2018
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- As Airmen lay in the supported prone position, the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance instructor yells into the microphone, “Fire!” Carbon powder falls from the bolt catch as hot rounds of ammunition fly toward the target.
Roughly 2,000 active duty and 500 Air National Guard Airmen are qualified through the 92nd Security Forces Squadron Combat Arms Course on several different weapon systems including the M4 Carbine and M16 rifle. Members of the 92nd and 141st Air Refueling Wings work together to ensure Airmen receive weapon systems training regardless of their component.
Active duty and Air National Guard Airmen work seamlessly as a team to meet training and deployment requirements.
“Working so closely with our ANG counterparts ensures we’re able to carry out our mission effectively,” said Tech Sgt. David Dudley, 92nd Security Forces Combat Arms instructor. “Any time they need something we can provide, there is no hesitation; it’s, ‘What do you need, when do you need it, let’s see what we can work out.’ If we are able to move our schedule around we will.”
Airmen from the 92nd and 141st ARWs qualify at the same shooting range, but work separately under their respective command. During Ability to Survive and Operate exercise, the most recent full spectrum readiness exercise, the 141st SFS CATM shop played a critical role in ensuring the 92nd SFS Combat Arms section was able to fulfill their mission.
“We exemplify total force integration,” said Staff Sgt. Kyle Rodgers. 92nd SFS Combat Arms instructor. “We were able to push 500 people through a 96-hour period; without the 141st SFS, we wouldn’t have been able to do that. The help they give us and the knowledge they bring to the team is invaluable.”
The 141st SFS qualifies their our own Airmen, but when there are short notice assignments they work together with the 92nd SFS get personnel the training they need, said Staff Sgt. Marc Whipple, 141st SFS unit deployment manager.
Combat Arms does more than qualify Airmen on weapons; they’re responsible for the serviceability of more than 2,900 weapons. Weapons inspections are reoccurring due to the necessity to check for serviceability of weapons before and after of deployments. The 92nd SFS also helps the 141st SFS by conducting maintenance on their weapons.
“During our non-firing time, we are scheduling shooters, maintaining the range and classroom, repairing weapons that need maintenance and checking to make sure the gauges are in working order for weapon inspections,” Dudley said.
Along with preparing Airmen to deploy, both shops work together in order to pass inspections. During the last ANG Operation Readiness Inspection, the two shops received one score. It benefits each shop to ensure they’re both running and operational, said Senior Airmen Chris Plourd, 141st SFS CATM instructor.
“The 92nd SFS CATM Airmen do this nine to five every day, whereas I don’t as often,” Whipple said. “If I come across something I’m unsure of, I go to them because they have a lot of knowledge and experience. Having those extra bodies to help us process Airmen makes it go smoother.”
It’s important both active duty and ANG CATM shops work together because their mission is not only critical to Fairchild, but to multiple overseas areas of responsibility. The Combat Arms Training and Maintenance shop qualifies Airmen on weapons and provides vital training for Airmen to execute their missions downrange.