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Simulated training prepares Arkansas defenders

A Security Forces Airman, assigned to the 189th Airlift Wing, Arkansas Air National Guard, accomplishes use of force training on the simulator designed to supplement annual training in Little Rock, Ark., Nov. 3, 2019. The simulator offers 27 Guard-specific scenarios to ensure defenders’ currency. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jessica Roles)

A Security Forces Airman, assigned to the 189th Airlift Wing, Arkansas Air National Guard, accomplishes use of force training on the simulator designed to supplement annual training in Little Rock, Ark., Nov. 3, 2019. The simulator offers 27 Guard-specific scenarios to ensure defenders’ currency. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jessica Roles)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Lights off, the screen on, two security forces Airmen walk into the simulator and pick up their weapons. Master Sgt. Jeremy Covington, the 189th Airlift Wing's Security Forces Squadron S4 superintendent and instructor of the use of force simulator, opens the program and a non-lethal use of force scenario appears on the screen. The defenders encounter a clearly agitated individual who will not heed their warnings. Pulling out a taser designed specifically for the training simulator, one Airman reigns the man on the screen into a passive state.

The simulator is interactive and even includes the use of flashlights during night scenarios. The Arkansas Air National Guard defenders practice multiple scenarios using this simulator, meeting the criteria for annual use of force training in the most efficient and cost-saving way. The system is also portable and can be used in recruiting events, family days and to showcase it to the community.

“This is a great way to ensure all our defenders receive the proper annual training,” said Covington. “The benefits are cost reduction, ammo conservation, and they have the opportunity to practice skill-building, and interactive training of lethal and non-lethal use of force. We can also practice this whenever we want, without planning months out and coordinating with different units and locations. It’s not all about the cost of the training but the availability of it. This makes it much better.”

Typically, the unit conducts training in the CONEX village located near the firing range to conduct building-entry, patrol movements and shoot-no-shoot scenarios but coordinating is often tricky. It also turns the 1-hour training on the simulator into a full day of training plus additional coordination for simulated rounds and occupancy of the area. Forecasting range days and firing rounds per person is planned nearly a year in advance to accomplish the physical training. While the use of force simulator guarantees training and practice whenever they feel they need it, it doesn’t match the real training scenarios.

“What you don’t get from the sim system is the feeling and genuine reaction of being hit,” Covington said. “When you get hit with an actual sim round, you know it. You lose some of the response on the simulator here in the building when you get ‘shot’ or someone comes at you. People react differently when they take an actual sim round to the chest out in the field. When they take a shot back at their antagonist, the shot won’t be nearly as accurate as it would on the screen.”

The simulator program is currently being used by all security forces units within the Air National Guard in addition to the physical field and range training. More than 27 Guard-specific modules and 300 additional modules are loaded into the software. The program has been utilized for approximately eight years and is constantly being updated to contain new scenarios. This practice, balanced with the traditional methods, continues to be the way-ahead for the foreseeable future.

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