To be the best, prepare for the worst
By Senior Airman Ryan Lackey, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 25, 2018
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Team Fairchild Defenders stand ready to handle any situation that comes their way, however, dangerous situations don’t occur often enough on base to familiarize every Security Forces Squadron Airman to best react to them.
SFS instructors at the 92nd have taken on that mission-readiness challenge by conducting a series of live-action scenarios to familiarize Airmen with high-risk situations that necessitate quick responses, teamwork and reliance on the basics to succeed.
“Our squadron is required to perform 225 hours of training for each Defender annually,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Anderson, 92nd Security Forces Squadron phase-one trainer and instructor. “Phase-one is initial training that brings new Airman up to speed on all SFS concepts, both Air Force-wide and locally; this high-risk training further advances their skill-set past those fundamentals.”
Instructors, role-players and trainees gathered at the SFS “shoot house” training area for two weeks of situational practice that employed protective gear, radios and simunitions (blanks and paint rounds), to make the practice sessions feel as realistic as possible.
Trainees practiced base entry controller guard situations, traffic stops and domestic cases during which they didn’t know what they might encounter. Training how to approach an unknown situation is a vital skill Defenders have to learn to remain as safe as possible.
“It’s nerve wracking when somebody pulls out a weapon, but I’m also armed and know what I have to do,” said Airman 1st Class Tonya Brackens, 92nd SFS installation entry controller. “We’re trained for this, this is why we do this: to get better at what we may have to do. Working with a partner to act out scenarios helps build my confidence should something like this actually happen.”
Officers also practice “verbal judo” to deescalate dangerous encounters through clear, concise and appropriate communication techniques. Taking control of a bad situation helps ensure officer and bystander safety.
“One part of this training is about officer safety at high-risk traffic stops,” said Staff Sgt. Jordan Regan, 92nd SFS installation patrolman. “One instance was a hostile gate runner, so we had to practice verbal command and control techniques to subdue them as a threat while keeping ourselves protected.”
Trainers provided immediate feedback to trainees on what went well and new approaches they may take to achieve a better outcome after each completed scenario.
“When we do a training event like this, we have to focus on critical training objectives, namely keeping people alive,” Anderson said. “We critique the performances and talk about what the Airman may have missed in the heat of the moment that can be corrected.”
The training scenarios mirrored past events Security Forces Airmen and civilian police forces alike have encountered at both deployed and domestic locations, so instructors already know what has worked in before to prepare their Airmen should it happen again.
“We do so much training because we can’t expect our people to be as proficient as we need them to be without it,” Anderson said. “We poll our people to discover weak areas to build up, then undertake considerable research to find real-world situations in constructing training plans we build from scratch.”
No two Airmen are exactly alike and there is no expectation that they will all respond the same, but 92nd SFS instructors know that all of their Airmen can lean and practice essential skills to be ready to respond anything, helping Fairchild maintain Rapid Global Mobility.