News>Part-Time Service, Full-Time Commitment: Security Forces and Maintainers
Story at a Glance
Air Force Reservists train to serve alongside active duty counterparts Balance between workload and additional training is essential Training often involves more than UTAs and annual tour
Staff Sgt. Justin Hayes, 403rd Security Forces Squadron combat arms training and maintenance member, shows Senior Airman Briana Dunnaway how to rapidly change a clip on an M-4 carbine. Airman Dunnaway, a 41st Aerial Port Squadron air transportation specialist, participated in the weapons refresher course as part of her preparation for the 403rd Wing's upcoming Operational Readiness Inspection. This is one example of the type of training Citizen Airmen perform in preparation for deploying in support of global contingencies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Labadens)
Senior Airmen Dalton Andrepont (left) and Scott Hamilton, 403rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chiefs, replace a tire on a C-130J-30 aircraft during the January unit training assembly. UTAs provide opportunities for Citizen Airmen to sharpen their job skills in their Air Force career fields. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Labadens)
by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Labadens
403rd Wing Public Affairs
2/12/2011 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, MISS. -- This is part one of four in a series on how Air Force Reservists from various career fields train throughout the year to serve their country.
Men and women of the Armed Forces train throughout the year to deploy wherever and whenever needed. For Airmen in the active duty Air Force, their full-time jobs focus on preparing for deployment in support of contingencies around the globe. But, what about Citizen Airmen? How do Air Force Reservists - who mostly serve part time - train so they can fly, fight and win alongside their full-time counterparts?
Within the Reserve's 403rd Wing here, each unit tweaks its schedule according to its training requirements and workload. Two squadrons in particular, the 403rd Security Forces Squadron and the 403rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron have training plans that prepare their Airmen to meet the future needs of the Air Force.
While both squadrons have distinctly different missions, they share commonalities in their approach toward training Citizen Airmen.
According to Chief Master Sgt. Michael Moore, 403rd SFS superintendent, two factors weigh heavily in training Reservists for worldwide deployment: prioritizing and planning.
"We develop our training plans for the year based on Air Force Reserve Command core requirements, wing training, and our own security forces training requirements. It takes a lot of rigid planning," said Chief Moore.
According to Senior Master Sgt. Klint Krieger, 403rd SFS operations superintendent, SFS Airmen are tasked with three main jobs: airbase ground defense, law enforcement and resource protection. Security forces people train on a variety of weapons, such as the M4 carbine assault rifle, the M249 light machine gun and the M203 grenade launcher.
"We're all trained in multiple tasks, but it's all based on a combat mindset," said Sergeant Krieger. "Our mission is to train to deploy."
One common set of training requirements all Reservists share is keeping up-to-date with ancillary training and computer-based training requirements. These include Self Aid and Buddy Care, Anti-Terrorism Awareness training, and Law of Armed Conflict training, to name a few.
"Quite often it takes some creative time management and supervisor awareness to accomplish both our additional training and job tasks within the time available," said Chief Master Sgt. Vincent Armata, 403rd AMXS superintendent.
According to Master Sgt. Miriam Berg, 403rd AMXS crew chief, members of the squadron are primarily tasked with taking care of the airframe, ensuring that the planes for the 815th Airlift Squadron and 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron are fit for flight. Striking the right balance between mission tasking and additional training is essential, she said.
"It's a challenge balancing our workload with CBTs and ancillary training, especially for traditional Reservists since they usually perform their training two days a month" said Sergeant Berg.
The sergeant is also an Air Reserve Technician with the 403rd AMXS. As full-time federal employees, ARTs perform their Reserve assignments as part of their regular jobs throughout the work week, as well as during UTAs and annual tours.
"There are some jobs we perform regularly while here on drill weekends, but other tasks need to be taken care of whenever they occur during the week. There are some things you just can't train on until something breaks," said Sergeant Berg.
During the January UTA, one of the tires on the landing gear of a C-130J-30 aircraft was worn thin and needed replacement. Sergeant Berg supervised as Senior Airmen Dalton Andrepont and Scott Hamilton, two AMXS crew chiefs, removed the old wheel and fitted a new one in place. She offered pointers and correction along the way but let the junior Airmen change the tire.
"One of the ways you learn is by doing," said Sergeant Berg.
Citizen Airmen have more than just two days a month and 15 annual tour days a year available for training. The Air Force provides Reserve units with funding for servicemembers for additional duty days throughout the year for Airmen to train or to support the mission.
Chief Armata said one program in particular is very useful for getting new Airmen up to speed: the Seasoning Training Program. STP tours can last anywhere between 45 days to a year.
"Once new Airmen complete their technical training, they arrive at their home station to gain some first-hand experience in their career field," said Chief Armata. "This program has been great at accelerating on-the-job training."
Overall, the chief said one of the main goals is to get each Citizen Airman the right set of training and experience to help them integrate seamlessly with the total force team while deployed.
"We want to have a good blend of people with experience and those gaining experience," said Chief Armata. "This ensures that we have the right mix of skill levels to work with the active-duty Airmen downrange."