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Peace meets pandemonium

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
With the sun beginning its ascent over the towering trees, a cool wind blows through a trail. Crunching leaves and scattering gravel along the isolated path is the only sound heard for what feels like an eternity.

This peace and harmony is met with chaos following dense smoke and gunfire coming from the very trees that once guided the way.

Mere minutes before the pandemonium ensued, the group arrived on scene, planned their routes, loaded their weapons and discussed tactics prior to commencing their mission.

Geared up in helmets, Kevlar vests and M-16 Carbines, the Airmen assigned to the 20th Security Forces Squadron began the journey into the forest, not knowing the darkness soon to come for the bright-eyed recruits.

Upon entering the site, the Airmen pushed themselves to the limit in a simulated deployed force-on-force environment.

“The training itself is part of the Reconstitute Defender Initiative,” said Senior Airman Skip Judkins, 20th SFS installation entry controller. “It helps ensure that we are ready year-round for combat. We go over security and law enforcement making sure we are ready no matter time or place.”

Ensuring Airmen survivability and mission success are vital while deployed downrange. Performing as if deployed, the Airmen worked as a cohesive unit to execute the mission, leaving no Airman behind.

“We are committed to giving you the capabilities you need to successfully execute the security forces mission,” said Brig. Gen. Andrea D. Tullos, Headquarters Air Force Director of Security Forces in a HAF publication. “Deliberately developing our defenders by executing mission commands, training our forces to operate in contested environments, and to empower our noncommissioned officer to take control of their squadron’s ability to detect, delay and defeat threats to airpower.”

Following the first shot by enemy forces, the calm wind that once ran through the trail was gone; the sense of peace the land had was now nonexistent.

With simulated gunshots and mortar fire occurring periodically, the smell of gunsmoke overran the trail. Senses heightened and overstimulated, the Airmen began to apprehend or eliminate hostile forces quickly and efficiently.

The overall goal of the training was to teach the Airmen how to properly respond when pit against enemy forces, while also being held accountable for any failures spotted.

“The initial intent of the objective was to recover a downed pilot,” said Judkins. “Once we went into the site, we encountered roughly seven hostile individuals that we needed to eliminate before escorting out the casualty.”

With the last wave of threats depleted, the team regrouped back to the start of the trail, to review their successes and shortcomings.

“I love training,” said Judkins. “We focus a lot of our time on combat so we will definitely be coming back out here again.”

With the hostiles eliminated and newfound skills acquired the team will continue to showcase their effectiveness and lethality in future deployments.