Creating an Air Commando: Air Commando Field Skills Course Week 1
By Airman 1st Class Kai White, 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 06, 2016
HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- The nature of Air Force Special Operations Command’s mission sometimes requires Air Commandos to operate outside of typical military installations downrange. Working in these conditions, aircrews may be in greater danger of kidnapping or worse.
For the Airmen progressing through the Air Commando Development Course, there is a class specifically structured to train and prepare them for the chaos of the Special Operations battlespace.
The Air Commando Field Skills Course, open to all AFSOC Airmen, takes students out of their comfort zone and the classroom for a 13-day crash course in everything from moving through hostile urban environments on foot to fighting from a moving vehicle.
“We’re here to make you more competent and confident in austere conditions downrange,” said Lt. Col. Robert Horton, commander of the 371st Special Operations Command Training Squadron.
Building up new Air Commandos begins with three days at a gun range where aircrews learn advanced pistol and rifle skills on both the M9 pistol and M4 carbine.
“This training helps teams have confidence in each other while carrying weapons,” said a firearms instructor with the 371st SOCTS. “They know that the guy next to them is competent in its use and can back them up if a situation goes south.”
Air Commandos run a gamut of drills with both weapons and get a full day focused on concealed carry with the M9 pistol.
The class intensifies as the days progress, starting with simple sight picturing and breathing control, before progressing to more advanced skills like firing around barricades and on the move.
The final day on the range culminates with a stress test, running Air Commandos through the gauntlet to test their skills while fatigued.
“Since these aircrews deploy in smaller units, we recognized they have to have these skills,” said a firearms instructor. “They won’t be kicking in doors, but when they operate with sister [Special Operation Forces] units, they need to be beside them, not behind.”
Operating in small units requires everyone to interdepend on each other and trust that everyone is capable of handling any task. According to one of the firearms instructors, this trust and teamwork is more important than rank.
The instructors include small tasks within the curriculum to allow officers and enlisted to work on the same level. As the instructors point out, on the battlefield, everyone has to work together to make it out alive.
To continue preparing these Air Commandos for the chaos of today’s Special Operations battlefields, instructors of the 371st SOCTS are running students through flight-deck denial, Tactical Combat Casualty Care, and Defensive Driving next week.