Air Commandos take on MOUT training
By Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson, 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 03, 2016
CAMP SHELBY JOINT FORCES TRAINING CENTER, Miss. --
Dust settles as the convoy comes to a halt while the sound of gunfire resounds from the hillside. Immediately, a team of 39 Air Commandos jump into action, ready to apply the skills they learned in their training and preparations leading up to this moment.
The team, Airmen assigned to 1st Special Operations Mission Support Group, is engaged in the final assessment of their live fire and Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) training during Task Force Exercise Southern Strike here, Oct. 23-24.
Southern Strike is a large-scale, conventional and special operations exercise hosted by the Mississippi National Guard at the Gulfport Combat Readiness and Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Centers.
During Southern Strike, Air Commandos received unique training that’s not available at Hurlburt Field.
“Here at Southern Strike we’re training our mission partners from five to six [career fields],” said Staff Sgt. Jason Gebo, a fire team leader with the 820th Base Defense Group. “We have some security forces troops here, but we’re also pulling communications, contracting, logistics and civil engineering personnel who are being tasked to deploy, but do not get this training with their day-to-day job. We’re bringing them here and giving them the best crash course we can and verifying they have the skills to go down range and perform effectively.”
Donning Kevlar helmets and body armor, the Air Commandos gather their weapons to begin advance combat arms training with the M9 pistol and M4 rifle.
“We did a lot of training on this range we can’t do on Hurlburt’s, like range familiarization with pop-up targets,” said Capt. Justin May, operations officer for the 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron. “This allows everyone to get used to firing at a target that’s actually 300 meters away versus a silhouette that’s only 25 meters away.”
Instructors with the 1st SOSFS led the group through speed firing drills with the M9 and stress firing drills with the M4.
“The point of stress firing is to get their heart rate and their breathing heavy so they can experience what it will actually be like when they’re in a fire fight,” May said. “Your adrenaline’s pumping, your heart rate’s racing, and your breathing is out of control, but you’re still expected to put the target down.”
In order to raise their heart rate for the stress firing, students performed cardiovascular exercises such as jumping jacks, jumping lunges and burpees prior to firing
Later, the MSG Airmen began their MOUT training with down driver and down gunner scenarios. In these scenarios, the students were walked through the steps they needed to take in the event a Humvee’s driver or gunner was to go down.
“Given the environments we operate in today, we had to tailor our training and operations to a more urban environment,” Gebo said.
Air Commandos also received training on building clearing tactics such as the proper ways to enter a building with a possible threat and how to clear each room.
“It’s a way to get them out of the mindset of dismounted training where they’re working out in the middle of open fields, the woods or more rural environments. It gets them used to moving through buildings and facilities to accomplish their objective in a more confined space,” he said.
With their training completed, the Air Commandos skills were then put to the test with a mock key leader engagement mission Oct. 25.
During the mission students were evaluated on their ability to respond to a possible IED along their route, provide security while meeting with village leaders and finally - react to enemy weapons fire during their convoy’s return back to base.
The simulated firefight lasted 10 minutes with the Air Commandos jumping into action to return fire by taking cover behind armored Humvees and slowly advancing on enemy positions to suppress their would-be assailants.
“This training has been extremely valuable,” said 2nd Lt. Richard Young, a project programmer for the 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron. “As part of the civil engineer squadron in Air Force Special Operations Command, we support special operation forces, and may have to use this training when deployed.”