Staff Sgt. David Martinez, 433rd Security Forces Squadron, is carrying the M-4 Weapon System with an M-203 Grenade Launcher attached. He is sighting in on an enemy position while on a combat patrol during the recent Patriot Defender excercise at Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Stacey Kruse)
Airmen from the 433rd Security Forces Sqaudron, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, participate in urban patrols as part of their Patriot Warrior Defender training. The goal is to clear the area of enemy fighters or insurgents. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Stacey Kruse)
by Capt. Bruce Hill Jr.
433rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
8/20/2006 - LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Forty members of the 433rd Security Forces Squadron returned from a challenging refresher training course called Patriot Defender, along with nearly 100 others from various wings throughout AFRC.
The 433rd, along with the other units, participated in the two-week course at Camp Swift near Bastrop, Texas, to maintain readiness in defending precious airfields.
"Upon arrival, we attended classroom instruction the first four to five days and then practiced in the field," said Tech. Sgt. Stacey Kruse, 433rd Security Forces Squadron Alpha Squad bravo fire team leader.
The group studied up on land navigation, convoys, patrols, how to handle and contain enemy prisoners of war, urban warfare tactics, rifle fighting, and received qualification training to operate five-ton trucks and two types of Humvees.
Patriot Defender, the same as ExpeRT, Expeditionary Readiness Training, in which they participated at Indian Springs, Nev., almost three years ago, teaches Air Force security forces members how to operate under harsh conditions and defend air bases from hostile attacks. The training is part of a certification that security forces Airmen must renew every three years and requires either getting acquainted or reacquainted with various types of equipment.
"We did weapons training with the M240B, a heavy gunner that replaced the M-60, and we're using the M-4, which will eventually replace the M-16," said Senior Airman Jerry Marzan, 433rd Security Forces Squadron fire team member.
"The M-4 is far superior to the M-16," said Airman Marzan. His reasons are that it's smaller, more universal and easier to clear buildings with, which is important when doing maneuvers in the urban warfare environment.
At Patriot Defender, students prepare for deployed operations and train in patrolling operations, as well as, convoying to help identify anything suspicious along roads, like improvised explosive devices, also known as IEDs, which are a common threat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Students experience more real-world-type training at Patriot Defender as opposed to the classroom focus of initial technical school.
"Convoy training simulates your being in Iraq just as the streets are actually laid out," said Staff Sgt. Oliver George, 433rd Security Forces Squadron fire team member.
The instructors are assigned to the 610th Security Forces Squadron at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas.
"The instruction was great," said Airman Marzan. "The instructors were very knowledgeable and brought experience from actual overseas deployments, primarily desert operations. Patrolling, my favorite part of the training, brought us out in the field where I like to be - outdoors.
"When patrolling, you're preparing to be ambushed as well as conducting some ambushes," said Airman Marzano. "It was exciting."
"Everyone was put through a challenge," said Senior Master Sergeant Mario A. Pelayo, 433rd Security Forces Squadron SFO and 20-year veteran with the Air Force Reserve. "Training lasted up to 16 hours each day and was very rigorous," he said. "The last three days constituted defending against aggressors. Throughout training, we had no penetrations and successfully protected the base."
Three years from now, this training will be required again for the security forces members, unless they are deployed. Last time they were deployed was about two years ago, just after they received the same type of training, said Sergeant Kruse.