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Defenders graduate Weapons and Tactics

Defender group shot

Brig. Gen. Roy W. Collins, Air Force Security Forces director, and Chief Master Sgt. Brian L. Lewis, Air Force Security Forces career field manager, visit a group of defenders during a Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., Sept. 1, 2020. The course covered standard law and order procedures that every defender is faced with throughout their career, as well as skillsets that were more unique to specific missions across the Air Force such as nuclear security operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Reed)

Defender paints face

Technical Sgt. Cory Irvin, 27th Security Forces Squadron Deployed Aircraft Ground Response Element program manager, paints his face to act as en enemy force during a hostage rescue exercise at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., Sept. 1, 2020. The exercise involved an integration of helicopter operations, overland movements, mounted movements, and military working dog teams on the ground. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Reed)

Defenders breach gate

Students of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course access simulated enemy territory during a hostage rescue exercise at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., Sept. 1, 2020. The Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course brought defenders from every major command together in an effort to learn and utilize skillsets from more than just one mission area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Reed)

Defender and dog team

Defenders advance into simulated enemy territory during a hostage rescue exercise at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., Sept. 1, 2020. The exercise wrapped up a seven week Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course that involved defenders from every major command. The course covered standard law and order procedures that every defender is faced with throughout their career, as well as skill-sets that were more unique to specific missions across the Air Force such as nuclear security operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Reed)

Team of four defenders

A fire team clears a training area during a hostage rescue exercise in Camp Guernsey, Wyo., Sept. 1, 2020. The exercise wrapped up a seven week Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course that involved defenders from every major command. The course covered standard law and order procedures that every defender is faced with throughout their career, as well as skill-sets that were more unique to specific missions across the Air Force such as nuclear security operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Reed)

Defender and working dog

Senior Airman Trenton Clark, 90th Security Forces Group response force member, takes a break with Military Working Dog Rio after supporting a fire team during a hostage rescue exercise at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., Sept. 1, 2020. The exercise involved an integration of helicopter operations, overland movements, mounted movements, and military working dog teams on the ground. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Reed)

Defender with weapon

Staff Sgt. Barrett Lutey, 823rd Base Defense Squadron assistant squad leader, engages with simulated opposing forces during a hostage rescue exercise that was a part of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., Sept. 1, 2020. Throughout the course, defenders learned skills such as reacting to situations while under stress and appropriately operating their weapons systems while fatigued. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Reed)

Defender in doorway

Technical Sgt. Christopher Zavala, 341st Security Forces Squadron defender, peers around a corner while clearing simulated enemy territory during a hostage rescue exercise at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., Sept. 1, 2020. The course covered standard law and order procedures that every defender is faced with throughout their career, as well as skillsets that were more unique to specific missions across the Air Force such as nuclear security operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Reed)

Defender exiting building

Technical Sgt. Christopher Zavala, 341st Security Forces Squadron defender, rushes out of a building after clearing the area during a hostage rescue exercise at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., Sept. 1, 2020. The exercise involved an integration of helicopter operations, overland movements, mounted movements, and military working dog teams on the ground. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Reed)

Defenders clearing town
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Students in the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course use the knowledge they learned in the seven week training to advance through simulated enemy territory during a hostage rescue exercise in Camp Guernsey, Wyo., Sept. 1, 2020. Throughout the course, defenders learned skills such as reacting to situations while under stress and appropriately operating their weapons systems while fatigued. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Reed)

CAMP GUERNSEY, Wyo. --

Defenders from across the country graduated the Security Forces Weapons and Tactics Instructors Course September 3, 2020 at Camp Guernsey, Wyoming.

This most recent iteration of the course was the first to be validated, or accepted for military wide use, after four years of hard work and effort from many different parties. Prior to the Weapons and Tactics Instructor training, two other, separate courses were employed, with one focusing on tactics and the other on critical thinking.

“We needed a course that merged these two prior courses together,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Alcala, Air Force Global Strike Command weapons and tactics manager. “This final course was established and validated in an effort to integrate a tactics network across the security forces community as a whole.”

Throughout seven weeks of training, students were given a deeper understanding of how their weapons systems worked. They trained in distance firing, threat discrimination, firing around targets, nuclear security operations, mounted and dismounted operations, area security and finally, law and order operations.

“As students, we went through everything that a normal defender would face on a daily basis but then we stepped it up a notch through a variety of courses that reinforced the foundation of our skills” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Hill, 736th Security Forces Squadron Pacific Air Forces Regional Training Center instructor. “This training allows us to be a subject matter expert on a larger portion of our jobs as defenders.”

Defenders from every major command were present at the training. A key goal of the course is to be able to take methodologies and tactics from different missions and utilize them across every aspect of the career field.

“We bring an expert and their tactics from each base,” said Tech. Sgt. Junior Ramirez, 90th Security Forces Group Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course instructor. “We essentially ask the question ‘How are you doing things at your base?’, so that students can take back that knowledge to their home stations. It’s all about standardization.”

This method of training allows students to go back to their home stations and be unit integrators with their mission partners, according to Alcala.

Feedback and in-depth debriefs were key in the process of constant improvement throughout the course duration. Course cadre constantly pushed students to evaluate themselves, reassess and reattack.

“By not having good, hard feedback, students are actually being set up for failure down the road,” emphasized Tech. Sgt. Cory Irvin, 27th Security Forces Squadron Deployed Aircraft Ground Response Element program manager. “Humility is a huge component of our debriefs. No matter how well an exercise was executed, it is our job as cadre to continuously search for something to improve upon.”

Irvin also stressed that course cadre were adamant in encouraging students to think outside of the box.

"We need our students to be open-minded and to move away from the rigidness typically found within the career field,” Irvin said. “We are moving past the old-school line of thinking of ‘this is how we have always done it’.” 

The course ended with a hostage rescue exercise to cap off a continuation of scenarios students faced throughout the training. Alcala says he hopes that the end of this course leaves students with a feeling of empowerment and camaraderie.

“It’s all about the person to your right and left,” he stated. “We are trying to create a team of teams, so when students leave, they understand that we all have a shared purpose.”