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Combat Arms Training Course
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Nicholas Yarmen, 99th Security Forces Group combat arms instructor, reviews a firing score card with a shooter during combat arms training Feb. 24 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The combat arms course curriculum changed Dec. 1, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jack Sanders/Released)
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Combat Arms implements new course of fire training

Posted 3/12/2012   Updated 3/12/2012 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Brett Clashman
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

3/12/2012 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- The 99th Security Forces Group Combat Arms flight implemented the Air Force's new course of fire in its small arms training program at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

The organization now conducts an updated training course for the M-4 Carbine weapons system for Airmen that are deploying or due for their annual training.

Airman 1st Class George Hudyma, 99th Security Forces Group Combat Arms weapons instructor, said they started using the new curriculum Dec. 1st, 2011.

The new course of fire training consists of two phases over a duty day. Phase one consists of five hours of classroom fundamentals and technicalities of the M-4 Carbine weapons system. Phase two is five hours of live fire weapons training on the firing line.

"Our primary goal everyday is to get Airmen deployment ready and give them the basic knowledge of this weapon," he added. "A lot of Airmen would say 'Oh it's to just get the qualification on paper,' but it's not about the qualification on paper. It's actually to train Airmen to know how to use the weapon during crunch-time. When they actually need to know how to use their weapon, they'll remember the knowledge that we give them."

The classroom portion of the course consists of use of force, assessment and evaluation of situations, and mechanical training on the M-4 weapon system.

After the classroom phase of the Combat Arms course of fire, the instructors and their students break for lunch and meet at the firing line for the live fire phase.

During live fire, students fire on targets using a variety of body positions from prone position, lying on their belly with rifle cradled ahead, to kneeling and standing. They fire at three different distances. Students in various Air Force specialties fire with either iron sights or using a red dot scope.

The Combat Arms course is more tactically oriented than previous Air Force small arms training and teaches important fundamentals to the Airmen participating in the course. It also raises their sense of awareness and helps ensure safety.

"Safety... magazine.... chamber... safety..." Hudyma said, repeating the safety checks for the M-4. "Safety is really important during the course. Yeah they follow the weapon safety rules, but it's our job to stay fully aware and to make sure they don't hurt themselves."

The Airmen on the firing range have 200 rounds to fire, 100 for practice on different scenarios, and 100 for a qualification assessment.

"We instruct students to grab magazines with a specific amount of bullets and move up to the line to shoot their target. Afterwards, we inspect the target to see how they're doing. It gives more of that face-to-face training," Hudyma said. "At the end of the day, we teach people the proper ways to clean the weapons. If they don't know how to clean it properly, they can potentially break their weapons."

Tech. Sgt. Michael Hickel of the 99th Security Forces Group, NCO in charge of Combat Arms, presently oversees the new course. He is in charge of seven instructors that maintain an annual qualification and certification for six different weapon systems.

The Combat Arms instructors on average teach a class of 28-30 students everyday, totalling roughly 9,700 Airmen annually.

"The new course of fire is very appropriate for today's mission and tactics," Hickel emphasized. "What we're trying to do is give the mentality that you're fully confident in your abilities to handle a weapon, to give that sense of responsibility that you're able to respond when things go bad."

For Airmen that do not meet the requirements to pass the specific qualifications of the course of fire, a remedial course is held weekly to ensure they receive assistance in areas in which they need help.

"Everyone absorbs knowledge that we throw at them differently. If they don't pass portions of the qualifications on the firing line, we put them in a designated remedial course to have more hands on and face-to-face training to help them receive the proper training they need," he added.

Senior Airman Justin Williams, personal wireless radio technician with the 99th Communications Squadron, recently went through Combat Arms course and also participated in the remedial course. He appreciated the course's improvements.

"I'm glad they changed the course. The mission requirements are changing and we need to stay proficient with the training," he added. "The remedial course is great. You can pick up on whatever you missed and apply it again out on the firing line. It's more hands-on training with the instructors about the technique of holding your weapon."

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