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168th Security Forces train 168th Maintenance Multi-Capable Airmen

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey
  • 168th Wing

Airmen with the 168th Wing refined tactics for possible future conflicts during a shoot, move, and communicate course at Eielson Air Force Base, March 11-15, 2023. The 168th Maintenance Group Airmen were trained as multi-capable Airmen with the 168th Security Forces Squadron and learned SFS tactics and techniques.

“What we have done as part of the Agile Combat Employment concept is take the MXS Group out to the range and put together a summarized shoot move and communication course similar to what cops would be doing,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Villa, 168th Combat Arms Instructor. “It helps them to have an understanding. It is a very basic course we put together. Still, it gives them an understanding if they went down range and had to implement movement along with shooting as opposed to the fundamentals and qualification shooting on which they regularly qualify. It gives them more in-depth training on movement and communication – situational awareness as well as implementing more of those factors, giving them a life of a cop and the training we do."

The MCA training focused on the “Shoot, Move, Communicate” course, which allowed 168 MXG Airmen to apply small unit tactics in realistic scenarios. The teams practiced moving towards a simulated enemy while using cover, communicating with each other, and putting accurate fire down range.

Senior Airman Caleb Foster, an aircraft structural maintenance technician in the 168th Maintenance Group, took part in the training and said, “The training gave me a rough idea of what it would be like as a team moving forward in a combat situation and how to provide cover for fellow teammates advancing in an area we are trying to defend.”

The course allowed the 168th Wing members to demonstrate the ACE concept and core mission of being proactive and prepared for operational maneuvers.

“We are at the range with our Maintenance Airmen to prepare them for combat and secure our assets at a forward-deployed location if needed,” said Chief Master Sgt. Ray Allen, 168th Maintenance Group Chief. “The opportunity to do battle drills while moving and firing weapons with Security Forces will help prepare them when they get forward-deployed, possibly in the Pacific doing hub-and-spoke maintenance operations anywhere in the world they are needed.”

Tech Sgt. Trevor Auton, a 168th Wing Combat Arms instructor, said, “It was an incredible course to share that type of knowledge with them. When we run a course like this, you have to make more decisions—you are responsible for knowing when to reload, when to move with your team, and when to communicate.”

Auton explained that it is essential to communicate with your team and those around you, “To move, you have to know you have cover—that they are willing to give you that cover. It can be a very bad time if you are unsure if you will have coverage when you move. Making sure you are loud, clear, and precise is very important.”

The MXS Airmen participated in the MCA SFS training to broaden their capabilities and posture them for potential operations in austere deployed environments.

“The course allows us to share the knowledge we have with others, so if they ever have to pick up a weapon and defend themselves, they are more likely to be able to move dynamically in combat,” said Senior Airman Daniel Bauer, 168th Wing Combat Arms Instructor. “It is different from the normal firing line qualifications where you stand statically. It allows you to learn about communicating with your teammates – moving from cover to cover, providing cover fire for them.”

The 168th SFS taught multiple groups of maintenance Airmen the basics of fireteam maneuvering.

“It is generally SFS’s responsibility to protect assets, but with the MCA concept, sometimes folks from other career fields will have to augment SFS,” said Bauer. “If you’re under attack, they may have to pick up weapons and defend themselves even if that’s not their primary duty. It’s important for them to have the knowledge so they can come home at the end of the day.”

The MCA firing training partnership with SFS and MXS aligned with the Hub, Spoke, and Node model in preparation for the next fight to protect and defend air assets. As warfighting is ever-changing, the 168th Wing continues implementing agile combat employment concepts through adversarial-minded combat-driven exercises.

“You never know what situations may arise – with everything, unfortunately, heating up globally, it is always better to be prepared,” said Staff Sgt. Hannah Moore, Electrical and Environmental Specialist in the 168th Maintenance Group. “If it does come down to it, I’m glad I got to practice effectively to deter aggression in this era of Great Power competition. Agile Combat Employment training, such as the training we received, is helpful as we don’t handle weapons regularly – In Maintenance, our primary focus is fixing planes. I appreciate the opportunity to learn to be better prepared if threats like that ever arise. It’s like, we hope you never need it, but it’s here if you do training. We don’t want to be preparing for this, but it’s the world we live in right now.”

These types of multi-capable training exercises enhance readiness and lethality, which is crucial for defending and deterring potential threats.

“It is important for other career fields to come out and learn and see what we do, and then if they ever find themselves in a situation like this, it is something they can potentially fall back on. We do not want them in a situation like this, but sometimes we do not have that choice,” said Auton. “Hopefully, we can learn something on the maintenance side of the house about anything we can do to help them out.”

Moore said, “Security Forces did a great job keeping everything straightforward. “Working within a team was nice. I like that we are all being prepared and seeing what goes into a ground fight because, in the Air Force, we think about getting planes in the air and dropping bombs.”