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CATM qualifies Airmen creating readiness

takes apart a M-4 carbine rifle

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kyle Hillian, 92nd Civil Engineering Squadron emergency management logistics chief, takes apart a M-4 carbine rifle at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, June 30, 2020. The M-4 Air Force Qualification Course is one of two courses available to all uniformed members on base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anneliese Kaiser)

Airmen fire a M-4 carbine rifle for their qualification.

U.S. Air Force Airmen attending the basic rifle Combat Arms Training and Maintenance course fire a M-4 carbine rifle for their qualification at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, June 30, 2020. All uniformed members in the basic rifle course fire 196 rounds to get qualified. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anneliese Kaiser)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. – --

Multiple M-4 Carbine rifle shots pierce the air, the smell of carbon powder fills the range as a row of Airmen get set on their targets again, at the words ready… FIRE!

 

The 92nd Security Forces Squadron Combat Arms Training and Maintenance center provides necessary training and weapon care five days a week, preparing Airmen for the fight.

 

“The world hasn’t shut down, it’s still going and people are still going to deploy,” said Tech Sgt. Shawn Robson, 92nd SFS Combat Arms Instructor noncommissioned officer in charge. “It’s important to keep people proficient.”

 

CATM has five instructors to educate all military members on base and over 5,000 weapons to maintain.

 

CATM instructors are security forces members who are specially trained for 13 weeks at Joint Base San Antonio to learn the skills and techniques to qualify Airmen around the world.

 

“You’re going to have to be very proficient at public speaking, controlling your class, seeing where your problems lie, and how to build confidence so that when they get out there, they don’t freeze up,” said Jacob Gertenbach, 92nd SFS CATM program manager.

 

With the Coronavirus 2019 outbreak, work centers are doing everything they can to mitigate the spread, while still fulfilling mission requirements.

 

“After every class we go in and wipe down all the tables, all the magazines and all the weapons,” said Staff Sgt. Kari Gardner, 92nd SFS CATM instructor. “We also have the students spaced out and wearing masks.”

 

In each class, instructors will explain the mechanics of the weapon, practice weapon drills and give students feedback on their firing skills for their continuous improvement.

 

“If they understand the fundamentals and apply them, they can go out there and be reasonably confident,” Gertenbach said. “We figure out where everybody’s confidence and comfortability is in class and that gives us that base that we can work off of. Here we preach three C’s -- comfortability, consistency and confidence.”

 

For security forces, specialized weapon training is held multiple times a year to ensure mission readiness.

 

“Security forces members carry their weapon every day and they are held to a higher standard because they are the first line of defense,” Robson said. “Because they are going to have to use a weapon and use it efficiently and effectively to keep the base safe and maybe save someone’s life.”

 

Security forces receives more in depth CATM training than other career fields, to master different types of weapons they have consistent and frequent practice.

 

“They have to get comfortable with low visibility firing, and they have to be confident and comfortable using all their equipment,” Gertenbach said. “They have additional stuff on their weapons compared to normal people.”

 

“We will not promise our students that they will pass, but we will promise however, that we will give them all the tools they need in order to pass and be efficient,” Gertenbach added.

 

Readiness is especially important for security forces Airmen and everyone in uniform.

 

“A mission could come at any time, at the drop of a hat,” Gardner said. “I believe that all Airmen need to be deployment ready.”

 

CATM is keeping Team Fairchild Airmen mission-ready by continuing to provide weapons training every year regardless of any challenges.