Combat Readiness Course: preparing for action at Kegelman

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. James Justice
  • Public Affairs
The cracks of fired rounds ring out and Airmen quickly duck into their Defensive Fighting Positions. The rounds may be blanks, but the training is as real as it gets.

Seventeen members of the 71st Flying Training Wing attended the Combat Readiness Course Nov. 14 to 17. While "deployed" to Kegelman Auxiliary Field, CRC members faced "attacks" by the Opposing Force playing the role of insurgents.

"The course went pretty well. Folks came together and got things going. All things considered, they did pretty darn well" said 1st Lt. Dennis Widner, 71st Logistics Readiness Squadron installation deployment officer. "We hit them with the fog of war and test them under the most severe conditions possible. The ultimate goal is to prepare them for the austere environment of war."

CRC provides detailed training in many of the skills necessary for successful overseas deployments. Training includes the proper use of mission oriented protective postures gear and anti-ambush tactics.

Training took the form of academic sessions, followed by action scenarios. The scenarios tested the students' application of the knowledge and skills taught by the instructors.

All combat scenarios used blank ammunition and Multi-Integrated Laser Emitter System gear. These scenarios were complemented by civilian scenarios and psychological operations.

Training began shortly after the students arrived at Kegelman. As the students' convoy rolled towards the location of their base camp, they were greeted by screaming and sign-wielding protesters.

Members of the OPFOR functioned as either insurgents or civilians depending on the teaching scenario. Nature also proved unwelcoming, with temperatures falling to 19 degrees and winds approaching 50 mph.

Combat scenarios began almost immediately with several small scale probing attacks. Those attacks continued day and night for the duration of the course.

"I think we had good experience in dealing with weapon malfunctions and things that went wrong in a simulated combat environment.," said CRC student Maj. Dennis Hunt, 71st Comptroller Squadron commander.

"We learned how to communicate in the dark, how to handle probes and attacks," he said. "The aggressors were very good at what they did. At times you could hear where the attack was coming from, but you could rarely see your target clearly."

According to Major Hunt, the exercise required teamwork in everything from building tents to standing post in inclement weather.

"We discovered how much more difficult firing the M-16 was while wearing all of the gear, the Kevlar and the helmet, as opposed to the firing range," the major said. "It was the first experience most people in our group had with firing their weapon with all the gear on."

Students responded to the attacks by adjusting their perimeter and improving their DFPs. Successful concentration of fire allowed the students to disperse these assaults.

Multiple scenarios included vehicle-born insurgents. One of these was a "drive-by," where the students disabled the vehicle at their Entry Control Point by killing the driver.

A second scenario involved attackers arriving in gas masks. Students immediately took notice of their opponents' equipment, and donned the appropriate level of MOPP gear.
Operations were maintained 24 hours a day, with security being the primary objective. Preventing infiltration was complicated by the dark of night and roaring wind during the day.

The final day of training began with several convoy ambush scenarios. Students had the opportunity to apply their training. The training demonstrated its value as the students twice turned away their attackers using the techniques they learned.

Training culminated with an attack to retake their base camp from the insurgents. Using a two-pronged assault that inflicted heavy casualties on the insurgents, Vance Airmen successfully recaptured their base.