News: 116th Security Forces turns up the heat in North Georgia
Story by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons
TUNNEL HILL, Ga. - Heavy machine gun fire, rifle and pistol competitions, counter insurgency operations and military operation urban training and were the order of business for the Georgia Air National Guard’s 116th Security Forces Squadron as they completed 10 days of annual training at the Catoosa Training Site in North Georgia.
“Annual weapons qualification was our primary objective at the range, but Catoosa provided additional training opportunities that directly correlated to what we do as ground forces when we deploy,” said Senior Master Sgt. William Greenway, 116th SFS manager.
In addition to firing ranges that accommodated all the weaponry the Airmen were required to qualify on, the site included a mock village, similar to ones common in urban warfare environments.
“With us being a rapid deployment unit, honing our skills is a must, especially for the younger Airmen who have been on few deployments or who have never deployed in a combat environment before,” said Master Sgt. Richard Ross, a squad leader with the 116th SFS.
“For some of our younger Airmen,” shared Ross, “this is the first time they’ve received ASO training, or what we call outside the wire training. This will be the foundation that is crucial to them if and when they get orders to deploy in a combat situation.”
Airmen with the unit reiterated how important this training is, as a number of the members participating in this event have been on multiple deployments in combat environments around the world.
For Airman 1st Class Paula Helms, just recently graduated from technical school, this was her first chance to perform annual training with her new unit.
“This training has helped give me a refresher of things I learned at tech school, and I’ve been able to learn new things from the more experienced noncommissioned officers,” said Helms. “Since so many of them have deployed, they have real-life experience to share.”
In addition to the preparation the training provided for overseas deployments, many of the principles and techniques learned come into play during times when the Georgia Guardsmen are called on for domestic support.
“Members of the 116th Security Forces were the first group to set up operations in the Lower Ninth Ward during Hurricane Katrina,” shared Capt. Robert Brumfield, 116th Security Forces Squadron operations officer. “We did some of the same type of things there, like building clearing and rescuing people, which we trained on here.”
“Having these types of facilities where everything is built and in place allowed our folks to hit the ground running and meet our training requirements in a shorter amount of time,” said Brumfield.
On any given day, the reverberation of heavy machines guns, grenade launchers, shotguns, rifles, pistols and the yelling of troop commands could be heard ringing throughout the hills of the 1,600-plus acre site.
Battling high heat, humidity, insects, and rain, the Airmen were given different scenarios and missions meant to mimic real life situations common for security forces. They were tested on their ability to communicate and react as a team while remaining flexible and adapting to the harsh environment.
“We’re always looking for opportunities for more and better quality training,” shared Greenway. “We train our people hard because of the job we do. It could mean the difference between life or death.”