The 161st and 162nd Security Forces Squadrons conduct a week of annual training

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jayson Burns
  • 161st Air Refueling Wing
Defenders from the 161st and 162nd Security Forces Squadron traveled from Goldwater and Tucson Air National Guard Base to Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for five days of Annual Training, July 9-15, 2022.

The week’s training began with two days on the firing range, focusing on the SIG Sauer M18 and the M4 carbine. Airmen ran through several drills that tested their reaction time and endurance, as well as their ability to focus on multiple targets.

“The goal for this week was to focus on familiarizing ourselves with our craft and continually working on it throughout each training day,” said Airman 1st Class Michael Sexson, defender with the 161st Security Forces Squadron. “The squadrons working together helped develop our compatibility and working relationship for future procedures, as well as provide different channels of knowledge.”

Off the range, both squadrons utilized Kirtland’s training facilities to practice close-quarter battle entry tactics, clearing a series of rooms in teams of four to six. They also familiarized themselves with self aid buddy care, and met with the 377th Mission Support Group Civil Engineer Division Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, where they learned how to spot and identify improvised explosive devices.

Master Sgt. Steven Gregorich, unit training manager for the 161st Security Forces Squadron, spearheaded much of the training decisions in order to help strengthen both squadrons’ readiness, as well as solidify their warrior ethos.

“It’s my job as the NCOIC of security forces training to make sure our defenders are operational at all times,” Gregorich said, “through training with the most advanced tactics and resources available in accordance with the CFETP, by-laws and, to me most importantly, weapons sustainment.”

A major highlight of the week’s training was the ability for both squadrons to work side-by-side and share ideas, tactics, techniques, and coordination as to what kind of training would work best across the board.

“The reason joint training is so important to our community is maintaining that continuity and growth among the force,” Gregorich said. “Our defenders get to train out of their comfort zone. Really the only way to grow is to get comfortable being uncomfortable, and the result becomes growth across the enterprise.”

Although New Mexico and Arizona share a similar environment, Kirtland still provided new challenges for the Arizona-based airmen to train in.

“The appeal of coming to Kirtland was getting out of our comfort zone,” said Captain Ryan Johnson, operations officer of the 162nd Security Forces Squadron. “Being able to test your skills in an unknown area is crucial to staying sharp, and to further develop skills for the betterment of the Air Force. Best practices and real experiences come together to sharpen our defenders at all levels.”

The joint nature of the training also increased the pool of outside experiences available for the airmen to share amongst each other. This included law enforcement members from multiple departments, as well as defenders who’ve served in Special Weapons and Tactics or with the U.S. Marshalls.

“Training with different squadrons is very beneficial for all involved, especially with the National Guard,” said Senior Airman Cesar Urrea, defender with the 162nd Security Forces Squadron. “Each can bring something to the table, to include more advanced tactics and maneuvers which can greatly improve how we do our job.”

It’s not an overnight process to put together a full week of joint training at a different base in a different state, but the success of this year’s annual training proved how much of an impact it can have.

“I personally had the pleasure of working alongside the 161st in Norway,” Urrea said. “Covid had previously brought our partnership to a halt, but now we can hopefully do more together in the future.”