319th SFS improves combat readiness, strengthens joint force relationship

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Raisa Christie
  • 319th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

Defenders assigned to the 319th Security Forces Squadron exercised their combat readiness and Air Base Ground Defense capabilities Nov. 23, 2023, by utilizing the shooting range at Camp Ripley training center, Minnesota.

According to U.S. Staff Sgt. Jason Jones, a Combat Arms Training and Maintenance instructor with the 319th SFS, the Minnesota Army National Guard has facilitated training requests for the squadron for the last five years, allowing practice with the M-240B and M-249 machine guns.

“The exercises at Camp Ripley are preparing airmen to defend the nation,” Jones said. “Qualifying our Defenders on multiple weapons allows them to increase their scope of responsibility, allowing them to be readily placed in various positions during deployments.”

Qualification testing for M-240Bs and M-249s is an annual requirement for Defenders, ensuring they maintain qualification and proficiency for full-spectrum Air Base Ground Defense.

“Much like anything else, these skills are perishable,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Justin Giannuzzi, Noncommissioned Officer in charge CATM instructor for the 319th SFS. “Without routine training, many of these skills can be lost or forgotten. Our job as Combat Arms instructors is to ensure that day never comes.”

The shooting range and Camp Ripley also allows CATM instructors to qualify units outside of Security Forces that have unique deployment requirements or members who serve as Security Forces augmentees.

“Every person in the Air Force should be able to defend the base,” Jones said. “If the Security Forces Squadron had to respond to a large operation, leaving the base Defenders low-manned, airmen from other units would fill in the gap of base protection.”

The partnership between the Minnesota Army National Guard and the 319th SFS is a demonstration of the enduring advantage the joint force provides.

“Through our partnership with the Minnesota Army National Guard, our joint force allies have helped our Defenders to accomplish mission requirements without sacrifices to the quality of training,” said Giannuzzi. “The state-of-the-art facilities that Camp Ripley supplies us with ensures that the 319th Reconnaissance Wing can provide combat-ready, multi-capable Defenders and defense force commanders across the globe.”