News: Combat arms training and maintenance instructors prepare Airmen for deployment
By Airman 1st Class Divine Cox
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. - Combat arms training and maintenance instructors at each Air Force base are not here to set you up for failure. They're there to help you.
The instructors at Scott AFB, for example, train more than 1,500 Airmen a quarter. Staff Sgt. Richard Barber, 375th Security Forces Squadron CATM instructor, said, "I love my job. I love seeing Airmen get expert, and I like that I get to see Airmen from different Air Force specialties qualify on a weapon."
Safety is the number one priority for the CATM instructors. Not only does an Airman have to qualify on a specific weapon, but if they are not handling the weapon safely, they can fail the course.
At Scott AFB, CATM instructors train on 11 different types of weapons. They train on the M-9, M-11 -- used by Office of Special Investigation, M-14 carbine, M-16, M-203 grenade launcher, M-870 and M-500 shotguns, Mark 19, and the .24-, .249-, and .50-caliber machine guns. An Air Force specialty, or AFSC, will determine the passing score for an individual.
AFSCs are categorized in two groups. Arms group A needs to hit the target 32 out of 50 to qualify while Arms group B only needs to hit the target 25 out of 50 times. To get expert, the shooter must hit the target 43 out of 50 times. Even though the class is taught at a pace where most can grasp the concepts, enabling them to pass, sometimes Airmen don't get it on their first try.
"If an airman does not pass, they are required to go to remedial fire," said Barber. "Remedial fire is held on the last day of the month the airman failed. The airman is also required to re-accomplish computer based training on the weapon which they failed and bring in the certificate. "If an airman continues to fail, they can be dropped from a deployment or (permanent change of station) orders can be dropped," added the sergeant.
Besides weapons training, the instructors are responsible for assisting unit deployment managers with scheduling, performing weapons inspections, as well as joint fire tasking. In order to become a CATM instructor, security forces members have to apply for it. There is a separate technical school called Combat Arms Apprentice Course at Lackland AFB, Texas.
"It is an eight-week course," said Barber. "So its kind of like a cross training, but you are still in the security forces career field."
At Scott AFB, CATM instructors support 70 units. Also, not only do the instructors train active duty members, but also Guardsmen and Reservists as well -- a Total Force support effort.