YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio —
The leaves creaked under the slow crawl of the airmen crouching under the canopy of ferns above them. Airmen took notes of their opposition from a distance, then regrouped in the dense forest to share information and plan their attack.
Members of the 919th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron traveled to the 910th Airlift Wing in Ohio to role-play opposition forces during the Integrated Defense Leadership Course. Airmen learned essential offensive skills during the training while deepening defensive techniques and reconnaissance.
“The other instructors and I designed the course a little over a year ago to be constantly changing and adapting,” the tech sergeant said. Adam Cutright, IDLC cadre and 919th SOSFS NCO in charge of training. “It is difficult for members of our security forces to get all the training required during exercise weekends. This training allows us to perform most of the required tasks with practical experience in the field.
The IDLC is a means for members of the Air Force Reserve security forces to meet their annual training hour requirements and maintain their status as a qualified combat force. Airmen join members of other units to share experiences and knowledge in student-led teams.
“The unique hands-on training time in the field is a huge plus,” said Master Sgt. Michael Blake, 919th SOSFS defender and IDLC student. “I saw more growth in my fellow Airmen throughout IDLC than over several [drill weekends].”
The 514th Security Forces Squadron, 934th SFS, 926th SFS, 710th SFS and 910th SFS all trained alongside the defenders at Duke Field for the two-week course. Some days they donned their camouflage face paint and other days they wore face shields in preparation for the unique learning experience.
As the Air Force Special Operations Command and Defense environment evolves towards a peer-to-peer combat model, trainers wanted to emulate the new style in IDLC. Teams of students were put against each other and tasked with outmaneuvering and battling each other.
“This course is important in helping us break out of an old safety training mindset,” Cutright said. “The future of the career will no longer be as much of a law enforcement model, but rather we are moving towards base defense operators.”
As part of a new training model, members of the security forces dragged whiteboards through the middle of the forest, scribbled down information about security posts, personalities and expected schedules. Opposing 919th forces had to hide and maneuver around the patrols defending the “friendly” team’s encampment. The encampment consisted of shallow holes surrounded by sandbags built by the airmen, called a defensive battle position.
“This training helped us gain experience in a different fighting style suited to today’s defensive climate,” Blake said. “I had the opportunity to participate in troop command procedures, writing operational orders and other unique skills. »
Some days ended in a colorful array of smoke-filled smog and live ammunition as members of the security forces mastered the art of reshaped combat.
“The past two weeks have been uninterrupted and action-packed,” Blake said. “The lessons were very thorough, with a very well adapted lesson structure.”
While students got hands-on experience in a dynamic environment, instructors operated strategically behind the scenes, thinking about the long-term readiness of the Air Force Reserve Command. Exercise planners used the IDLC to assess where other security forces squadrons were located throughout the AFRC with training and equipment, so they could give useful information to units from member to home.
By the end of the course, the miles of forest floor felt by combat boots and casing buckets left behind by rifle chambers indicated new experiences and skills for students and cadres.
“I’m very proud of my students, I love seeing light bulbs go on in their heads and the evolution of their education,” Cutright said. “Even in leadership qualities, it makes me happy to see young Airmen leaving here with so much confidence instilled.”