News: 'Dirty Thursdays' brings WG/CC to Battlefield Forensics
Story by Staff Sgt. Carolyn Herrick
MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif. - It's not often you see a commander in "battle rattle” swabbing blood off the walls or dusting for fingerprints, but that's exactly what the 452nd Air Mobility Wing commander here did last week on “Dirty Thursday.”
Col. Samuel Mahaney spends one day every week going out to a different unit to learn their mission and capabilities, and this week his travels took him into training that less than 2 percent of the entire U.S. military ever receives: Battlefield Forensics, a four-day joint training activity hosted by the 4th Combat Camera Squadron July 23 to 26.
The 4th CTCS is the only combat camera squadron in the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command, and its mission is to acquire still and motion imagery in support of classified and unclassified air, sea and ground military operations.
"The reason I go out on Thursdays and get dirty is to get out and spend time with the airmen," he said. "I can read about it, and people can talk about it, but until you get out there and you've done the job, it's really hard to appreciate that. It helps me make sure I'm taking care of people and they're taking care of the mission."
During Battlefield Forensics, he got joined a class of 41 students comprised of U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps service members from diverse military occupational specialty codes teaches military members and learned to perform site exploitation techniques including security sweeps; collecting and processing known and unknown prints, latent prints, and materiel; collecting DNA; tactical questioning; and forensic photography.
"There were a lot of things about this training that surprised me," Mahaney said. "One is the physical nature of the training. You're all geared up, you have all your weaponry with you, all your gear, all the things you need to gather forensic evidence, and yet you're moving quick - you're moving fast because you never know how much time you have on the scene. It's a lot of weight, it's a lot of energy, and it's a lot of power involved in what you do to gather forensic evidence."
The course was taught by a mobile training team of seven Department of the Army contractors from Six3 Systems who each hold diverse lifetime career backgrounds in law enforcement and forensics.
Students' military occupational specialty codes ranged from combat camera to intelligence, security forces, and explosive ordnance disposal.
"This training is vital to members of the 452nd (AMW) because when we go out and deploy, we are working with other services all the time," Mahaney said. "If you look at the history of combat camera, we've had folks working with Rangers, with Stryker brigades, and sister services. This type of joint training is very important so that we can share one another's cultures while working toward the same objectives - that way, when we get in the field, we're able to accomplish those objectives so much quicker."