2017 Security Forces Advanced Combat Skills Assessment
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Grimacing, they run through the rain, their water-logged bulletproof vests getting heavier by the second while their teammate’s encouraging shouts grow louder. A finish line is crossed, usually denoting completion, but in this case, representing simply a line of demarcation between grueling events.
The payoff: bragging rights, and unit morale. The price: a long road of pain, practice and painstaking preparation.
Recently, eight 374th Security Forces Squadron defenders took second place at the 2017 Security Forces Advanced Combat Skills Assessment competition, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The competition featured the best Security Forces members from 11 Air Force bases across the Pacific.
The week-long ACSA competition is no joke. It is designed to test defenders’ tactical and field knowledge, and physical and mental endurance through a series of challenges.
Individual events included hand-to-hand combat, physical training, marksmanship, land navigation through the Guamanian jungle, close quarters combat and other simulated combat situations.Training for this event not only helps them in the competition; it also hones real-world tactical knowledge, essential for an overseas security forces member.
“The training days flew by; we were always busy doing something,” said Senior Airman Francisco Daniel Barron, 374 SFS alarm monitor and team member. “It’s good training, really hands on and intense.”For most of the team, the hardest part of their month was the intense daily workouts.
A typical warm up would include group stretching and a one mile run, in full duty uniform, including bullet proof vests. The warmup was followed by a two hour workout focused on improving their physical combat readiness.“Getting in bed at the end of the training day, you’re sore, getting out of bed, you’re sore,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Pfeiffer, 374 SFS ACSA team lead. “Getting up, you are assured it’s going to be another hard day.”
Preparation for the event began as soon as the Yokota team was constructed. “Because of our intensive training, the team excelled,” said Staff Sgt. Oscar Gomez, ACSA team coach and 374 SFS non-commissioned officer in charge of plans and programs.
Gomez is a proven winner at defender competitions, while at his previous assignment, Gomez was part of the defender teams that won both the 2011 Global Strike Challenge and the 2012 GSC best firing team. “My experience from various competitions helped set our team up for success,” said Gomez. “I’m happy and impressed with our team. They pushed themselves each day and it showed.”
After finishing their morning workout session, the team generally headed to the classroom to game plan techniques and special tools necessary for various aspects of the competition.“The classroom time was essential in ensuring we had mastery over a breadth of tactical knowledge and skills needed for the competition,” said Pfeiffer.
The classes were taught by experts in their respected fields including survival, evasion, resistance and escape, night and day land navigation, range estimation and weapons terminology. “To me, the most rewarding part of our training was learning new things every day,” said Senior Airman Lucas Anthony Velazquez, 374 SFS Base Defense Operations Center controller and team member. “The in-depth training we did really pushed us ahead of the curve.”
Following the classroom portion, the team either practiced marksmanship or close quarter combat operations. The ACSA competition consisted of a firing portion where the team’s overall score was combined after shooting various weapon systems to include the M4 carbine assault rifle, M9 pistol, M249 light machine gun and the M203 grenade launcher.
While at weapons training, the team practiced shooting styles to simulate various tactical situations they may encounter in the field. They also spent a lot of time breaking down the weapons, learning the names of each part and reassembling each of the four weapons they would be firing during the competition, ensuring they knew each firearm inside and out.
The training days ended with hand-to-hand combat instruction. “Security Forces personnel are all taught basic hand-to-hand combat techniques to help you out if things go south while on patrol,” said Airman 1st Class Kimberly Burton, 374th Security Forces Squadron patrolman and team member. “But for this competition, we went in depth and learned lots of new things to help us in this competition and in our jobs.” The 2 to 3 hour hand-to-hand combat training was a second team workout, leaving them physically and mentally exhausted.
The final portion of the ACSA competition involved military working dogs, Stella, an 8-year old 374 SFS MWD, and Staff Sgt. Jordan Lee Gunterman, 374 SFS MWD handler, making up the K-9 unit that represented Yokota at the ACSA after winning the Yokota Police Week K-9 competition.
The winning streak continued for them, as they won the K-9 competition at ACSA. Although their day was long and grueling, the team was excited for the opportunity to compete with the best PACAF Security Forces members.
Yokota’s team came back with a second place overall trophy and placed first in three out of the six events including military working dog team, tactics and the mental and physical challenge, but the overall score was not what really mattered to team members, said Gomez.
“This event brought defenders together from different bases, we got to know each other a bit and it’s a friendly, competitive environment,” said Senior Airman Trent Lamb, 374th Security Forces Squadron alarm monitor and team member. “We got to exchange ideas, and see how different bases do things. That’s what really matters.”
Security Forces Video: https://youtu.be/aPDw3G53jPY
[Source: By Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson / 374th Airlift Wing ~ U.S. Pacific Command -/- Media Relations]
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