403rd SFS Reservists help train future AF officers, National Guard, deployers

  • Published
  • By Jessica L. Kendziorek
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

Dressed as enemy soldiers, hiding in the bushes and lying in wait to either ambush a convoy or ground forces, members of the Air Force Reserve 403rd Security Forces Squadron got a chance to put their training to use, but this time from a different perspective.

This week four SFS reservists volunteered to help with training Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps members at Camp Shelby.

“It is fantastic that reservists in uniform today are able to help provide training and support to future officers for the Air Force,” said Mike Barron, Asymmetric Threat Training Support Program lead instructor.

The Asymmetric Threat Training Support Program, as part of the National Guard Bureau, provides realistic, intense, stressful and challenging battlefield training scenarios for all members of the National Guard. Plus, at the request of Camp Shelby, Barron, Tim Chilson, and David Anderson supply the same training to everyone else that comes to the base; active duty, Reserve, and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps for any branch of service.

During their annual tour this week, 403rd SFS members assisted with training delivery on a Dismounted Visual Indicator Lane (DIVIL), consisting of several inert Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). They provided training assistance for mounted and dis-mounted operations using ground attack training methods. They also helped prepare and laid out a training ‘mine’ field that the AF ROTC students have to find and, ideally, evade.

On June 8, Barron ran a DIVIL lane for the Air Force with the help of Senior Airman Hardy Watts, 403rd SFS squad member.

“A DIVIL is similar to micro classrooms that a group goes through that has several injects or devices (IEDs) laid out in the lane that have to be studied before moving on,” said Barron.

All the 403rd members who were helping this week were trained on the XM-10 blast simulator and the AK-47 backpack weapon simulator systems prior to using them in the field, and at the end of the week they will be provided a certification/safety card that will allow them to check out either system if they ever need them for training other members of the 403rd SFS, said Barron. 

“After giving them the training on the equipment, I let them pick what they wanted to do, so that they could get involved in a variety of training,” said Barron. “They provided a wide depth of training support, and once they were trained on each piece of equipment, they were troubleshooting it and working through problems, just as if they had been doing this for some time. You just can’t buy that kind of support.”

While Watts was engaging the Air Force ROTC cadets in fire fights during ground attacks using a paint ball gun, Tech. Sgts. Tommilleus Harper and Brandon Breaux and Senior Airman Matthew Danyus were running the mounted lane, or a vehicle convoy lane.

The mounted lane training involves a planned route that a convoy must take, identify any unexploded ordinance, (UXOs), look for possible IEDs, and be prepared for small arms fire.

In this case, Harper, Breaux, and Danyus were lying in wait to set off an IED using the blast simulator and open fire with the AK-47 simulators; and the unit in the convoy is evaluated on their response to the two-pronged attack.

“For us, playing the bad guy is a good thing. We get to watch and observe how other units do things, because sometimes there are small differences between branches of service,” said Breaux. “We can pick up things from their experiences and bring that back to the unit, so while playing the bad guy is helping them out, it also helps us out at the same time too.”

Breaux said that doing this type of training provides a real world type of stimulus that they can’t get in a classroom, the sounds, the sights and even the physical stimuli that you get in the field.

Being in Mississippi, that physical stimulus started with the heat. Rolling down a gravel road, the convoy first got the sound and vibration from the blast simulator (IED) when it went off with a loud bang and a blast of smoke.

Then more sounds and the sight of Harper, Breaux, and Danyus as they started “shooting” their AK-47 simulated weapons at the convoy and coming out of the woods.

“Being worldwide deployable, this helps keep our skills in tune,” said Breaux. “Plus we enjoy working up here and helping out.”

As for Watts, he said that he enjoyed getting to do the hands on training and getting the chance to answer questions for the cadets.

“I am really thankful for the 403rd Security Forces for sending people to help me out,” said Barron. “And it just shows the great working relationship my team here has with them.”