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177th FW leaders practice Defender's proficiency fire course

U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Leonard, Maintenance Group commander from the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, fires the M4 carbine during weapons qualification training at the Transportation Security Administration firing range in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. on Nov. 5, 2019. Leonard, along with the 177th Fighter Wing commander and group commanders, took the security forces proficiency fire course to experience a base Defender’s job. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley)

U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Leonard, Maintenance Group commander from the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, fires the M4 carbine during weapons qualification training at the Transportation Security Administration firing range in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. on Nov. 5, 2019. Leonard, along with the 177th Fighter Wing commander and group commanders, took the security forces proficiency fire course to experience a base Defender’s job. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley)

U.S. Air Force commander and group commanders of the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, participate in weapons qualification training at the Transportation Security Administration firing range in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. on Nov. 5, 2019. The leaders took the security forces proficiency fire course to experience a base Defender’s job. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley)

U.S. Air Force commander and group commanders of the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, participate in weapons qualification training at the Transportation Security Administration firing range in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. on Nov. 5, 2019. The leaders took the security forces proficiency fire course to experience a base Defender’s job. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley)

U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Eric Erickson, the Medical Group commander from the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, fires the M9 pistol during weapons qualification training at the Transportation Security Administration firing range in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. on Nov. 5, 2019. Erickson, along with the 177th Fighter Wing commander and group commanders, took the security forces proficiency fire course, to experience a base Defender’s job. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley)

U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Eric Erickson, the Medical Group commander from the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, fires the M9 pistol during weapons qualification training at the Transportation Security Administration firing range in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. on Nov. 5, 2019. Erickson, along with the 177th Fighter Wing commander and group commanders, took the security forces proficiency fire course, to experience a base Defender’s job. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley)

ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. -- Leaders of the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing visited the Transportation Security Administration firing range Nov. 5 to qualify on the M4 rifle and M9 pistol and take the Security Forces proficiency fire course to get a feel for what a base defender’s job entails.

“With 2020 being named the Year of Integrated Defense, Security Forces are getting more trigger time, which makes them more lethal,” said Lt. Col. Raymond Sackmann, 177th Security Forces Squadron commander. “Going through the course allows the leadership to learn what that means and how we do it.”

In addition to the Year Of The Defender and Year Of Integrated Defense, USAF Security Forces previously worked on the Reconstitute Defender Initiative, which signaled a move toward an eight-hour armed shift, allowing defenders more time for physical fitness training, family time and other training including more trigger time.

“Right now, we qualify once a year,” said Sackmann. "With the Year of Integrated Defense, the Air Force is trying to bring a layered defense and 3D defense of the installation, as well as setting up and defending a bare base. The more time we have shooting, trigger time, and familiarizing, the more lethal we become.”

While defenders train to adapt to more modern base defense concepts, they still have to deal with the physical strain that comes with their occupation.

“Carrying their body armor and their duty weapons, the M4 and the M9, as well as all the ammunition that goes with it, and all the other Security Forces gear, folks that don’t have to carry all that, day in, day out for 14 hours per day don’t realize when they see a defender standing there on their post, how much gear is involved and the weight and the toll it takes on the body,” stated Sackmann. “That’s what we’re finding out, with the Reconstitute Defender initiative, and some other studies, is that the defenders are coming up with some of the most injuries – hip, back, neck - from carrying all of the gear for long periods of time.”

The 177th Fighter Wing commander and group commanders enjoyed the realistic experience at the range at Egg Harbor Township and gained a heightened awareness of how Security Forces Airmen train to defend the base.

“It’s amazing to get a feel for what our defenders do every day, being ready to employ weapons, being ready to defend the base and legitimately how hard or how much work it is to just be ready to go,” said Col. Bradford Everman, 177th FW commander. “And so, walking through all of these drills, shooting the weapons, carrying the weapons, and with all of the safety procedures, it’s a good feel for what Airmen need to be able to do at home and abroad.”

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