FTX: Desert Fox
By Master Sgt. David Loeffler, 144th Fighter Wing PA
/ Published August 07, 2011
California Air National Guard Base Fresno -- A hot desert wind rips across the valley floor as airmen of the 144th Security Forces Squadron peer through night vision goggles into the quiet night. Practicing strict noise discipline they wait for enemy probing and attack from the opposing forces.
Music, foreign to the ears of the American airmen, is blasted from a distant loud speaker and is soon followed by random gunfire and mortar attacks. The airmen of the 144th Security Forces Squadron bolt into action reporting their observations to the Base Defense Operation Center as they make final preparations to fulfill their mission - to defend the base.
The annual Field Training Exercise took place at Camp Corum, a very specialized training site at Edwards Air Force Base, which closely mirrors field conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Forty-eight members of the 144th Security Forces Squadron convoyed to the training site deep in the Mojave Desert for the five day training exercise which focused on night operations.
"We have a lot of training requirements levied upon us. One of the most important is the Air Base Ground Defense training." said 2nd Lt. Michael Laplaca, 144th Security Forces Squadron Commander. "In order to do that properly we really need to go to an environment where we can run-and-gun, utilize blanks, ground burst simulators, CS gas and other things of that nature. Camp Corum, here at Edwards Air Force Base, is a perfect environment for our training."
Security Forces followed the crawl, walk, and run technique by practicing their tactical operations during the daylight hours prior to performing them during the night hours. Operations included combat patrols outside of the wire, static defense inside the base, communications, cultural observations and tactical maneuvers.
"The Security Forces career field is unique. A lot of people see us at the front gate and think that is all we do, but when we go downrange we are truly the Infantry of the Air Force," said Master Sgt. Jimmy Schiotis, the 144th Security Forces Squadron training manager. "This training, a culmination of all of our Air Base Ground Defense training , has given us a unique perspective on what happens downrange whether it is convoy security, tactical security patrols, tactical security escorts, or raven missions. A member of the 144th Security Forces could easily find themselves in any one of these downrange scenarios and this training prepares our personnel for success and builds team cohesiveness."
The Field Training Exercise gave many of the new Security Forces personnel the chance to gain valuable insight from the senior members of the team and offered an opportunity to train in an environment which challenged them with every step.
"I am learning a lot," said Airman 1st Class Christine Maybe. "As an A1C, a squad leader and a fire team leader, I am being challenged by being put in a leadership position over Staff Sergeants, Technical Sergeants and even Lieutenants. We are a nine man team that goes out on combat missions, contacts the enemy, gets intelligence, rescues hostages and gets the bad guys. We put in a lot of hard work, it's very demanding, but to come out a success is the biggest reward. "