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New CATM course preps Airmen for battlefield
Staff Sgt. Nick Niles, 2nd Security Forces Squadron Combat Arms instructor, instructs a class on how to properly hold an M-4 during Rifle/Carbine Air Force Qualification Course at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Aug. 8. The Air Force recently re-vamped the course of fire and increased the amount of classroom time and rounds fire needed to qualify on the M-16 and M-4 rifles. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Sean Martin) (RELEASED)
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New CATM course preps Airmen for battlefield

Posted 8/9/2012   Updated 8/9/2012 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Terri Barreire
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

8/9/2012 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --  -- The 2nd Security Forces Squadron here recently revamped the rifle qualification course to align with new Air Force standards to ensure Barksdale Airmen preparing to deploy have all the training necessary to protect themselves and others.

"The changes were initiated after it was noted that an increasing amount of Airmen who traditionally were not in combat were experiencing combat situations while deployed," said Staff Sgt. Kevin Hillman, 2 SFS Combat Arms instructor. "It was determined that a lot of the Airmen being placed in violent situations did not feel confident handling their weapons."

With this in mind, the Air Force re-vamped the course of fire and increased the amount of classroom time.

Under the new standards, the Rifle/Carbine Air Force Qualification Course is broken into three sections; two for the general population and one for battlefield Airmen such as security forces and pararescuemen. The first section covers immediate actions such as practice and qualification as well as basic rifle fundamentals. The second section covers short range combat practice and qualification. Those attending the third phase will qualify on night shooting, infrared laser and night vision devices.

However, the most visible change in the course will be the amount of rounds fired. The new course of fire will see Airmen shooting nearly double the amount of ammunition in order to qualify on the rifle.

"The more you shoot, the better shooter you are going to be," Hillman said of the new course of fire. "I believe most personnel leave the range now more confident in their weapon- handling ability."

Hillman said he believes it also helps the shooters get hands-on experience with short range combat.

"The new course of fire gives those going down range a more tactical approach to shooting," said Tech. Sgt. Earl Norris, 2 SFS CATM instructor. "The additional training opens their eyes to a different type of fighting. There's always that chance that once they deploy they will be working closely with the Army, so we're trying to mimic what the Army does real-world with shooting and the verbal commands they use."

Instead of saying "fire" when on the range, students will now use commands such as "contact right" or "contact left" to begin firing rounds down range. This is to create a more realistic scenario so there is no confusion when they are placed in real combat situations.

Though the additional training has extended the length of the course past a full duty day, the instructors and prior students alike agree it's time well spent.

"I have received several e-mails and phone calls about how the new course has increased someone's confidence level." said Hillman.

Norris said he mostly receives positive feedback from those who have been deployed with the Army and had to experience some of the scenarios discussed in training.

"This is good training for everyone to have, but it's obviously fantastic training for those preparing to go, or currently in, the combat environment," he said.

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