Airman optimizes mission readiness by enhancing AF Combatives Master Program

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jesenia Landaverde
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Animated fighter jets roar across the sky as Duke, the G.I. Joe Team first sergeant, and his band of highly-trained special mission operatives fight for freedom against the Cobra organization, their arch-enemy. The theme song, “A Real American Hero,” starts to play through the television set, inspiring five-year-old Jarad Underwood.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Underwood, 22nd Training Squadron Advanced Skills Training NCO in charge, is the first and only person in the Department of Defense who is eligible to teach combatives to all servicemembers, despite their military affiliation.

Underwood began his military service in the Marine Corps as an infantryman in 2002, where he received his introduction to combatives by participating in the Marine Corps Martial Arts program.
“I started combatives in the MCMA program and I was able to earn my green belt before I separated in 2006,” said Underwood. “I continued to train in hand-to-hand combat by doing mixed martial arts as a civilian.”

Underwood worked as a middle school teacher in Jonesborough, Tennessee, before he decided to return to the military as an Airman in 2011.

“I missed being in the military,” said Underwood. “I like instructing and combatives so I looked into military jobs and becoming an Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialist was a good fit.”

Becoming a SERE specialist takes great physical strength and endurance. Fifty percent of those who attempt to enter the career field fail. Although SERE is challenging, Underwood persevered and has mastered his focus and skill in combatives.

Underwood has completed over 1,000 hours of combatives training to include the modern U.S. Army Combatives Master Instructor Program, Marine Corps Martial Arts Program Instructor Course, Special Operations Combatives Program and Air Force Combatives Master Program.

“Having participated and excelled in all of this training, I was selected by the Air Force to help expand the Air Force Combatives Master Program,” said Underwood. “Having been through numerous military combatives, I was able to select which components would best serve the goal of the new expanded program.”

The Air Force then selected Underwood to be the first program manager for the expanded Air Force Combatives Master Program at the Air Force Academy, Colorado. The program’s goal is to teach and certify professional military education instructors, military training instructors and military training leaders on combatives techniques in order to train enlisted and commissioned Airmen and increase mission readiness.

“Tech. Sgt. Underwood has been a fundamental asset to the combatives program,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Skyler Pendleton, 22nd TRS SERE specialist and SERE Combatives Program instructor. “In terms of the leaps and strides this program has made, he has spearheaded a lot of components to make it grow. He pushes for a product that has a greater impact, not only on Fairchild or the academy, but on all major commands.”

The AFCMP is 120 hours of guided instruction focusing on projectile striking, clenching and grappling self-defense techniques to prepare Airmen for any emergency event or captivity situation in an unfriendly environment. The course focuses on realistic war-time scenarios involving simulated adversaries to enhance an Airmen’s ability to prevent or escape a hostile environment.

“We are all natural leaders, but some Airmen operate behind the scenes and have a hard time understanding the importance of the warrior ethos,” said Underwood. “If they can learn and implement combatives, it will help them hone self-confidence and encapsulate important leadership traits.”

All of Underwood’s hard work has given him the wisdom to prepare warriors in all military branches with vital skills and potential life-saving techniques. This enables him to optimize mission readiness and share his knowledge with Airmen to help them return with honor, but like at the end every episode of G.I. Joes says, “knowing is half the battle.”