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New Hampshire Air Traffic Controllers Increase Readiness

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Victoria Nelson,
  • 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. – Forty-five Airmen with the 260th Air Traffic Control Squadron completed a two-day weapons qualification course at Fort Devens in Massachusetts Sept. 10-11.

This was the first time since 2015 that the Airmen shot and qualified as a team with their entire squadron.

“It’s a great thing to see everyone working out here today,” said Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Knott, an air traffic controller with the 260th ATCS. “We are creating that well-rounded expeditionary asset we need to be in order to support the nation.”

The squadron collaborated with the range safety officers (RSOs) at Fort Devens and completed additional training to ensure all members could participate together.

“A couple of our guys got qualified to be RSOs and help out so we could bring everyone,” said Master Sgt. Peter Getchius, a radar airfield weather systems technician with the 260th Air Traffic Control Squadron and RSO coordinator.

The 260th ATCS includes personnel in numerous career fields. Each works in a different location on base, from the ATC tower to the ground control area in the middle of the airfield. Airmen who do not often work in the same building were able to shoot as a team through a variety of postures and distances within event-specific target scenarios.

“It’s been a lot of reaching out to different units and coordinating,” Getchius said. “But getting out here has been a smooth process, and now the squadron as a whole is better prepared and deployment ready.”

“It feels long overdue,” he added. “Getting to do this with the whole squadron has been great.”

Every ATC member successfully qualified on their M4 rifle during the two-day training.

“Gen. Brown, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, said that we need to accelerate change or fail,” said Knott. “We’ve been asked to put ourselves in a higher readiness posture so we can respond to any crisis or emergency. This weekend we did just that.”

The 157th Air Refueling Wing is working toward total force readiness. Service members must be weapon qualified and complete medical evaluations and required training before they can deploy.

The Airmen said the weekend was a success and better prepared them to serve on short notice. The highlight for many was going to the range with 45 of their closest wingmen.

“I like shooting, so it was cool to be out here,” said Airman 1st Class Gabriel Fortier, a knowledge operations specialist with the 260th ATCS. “I feel confident and it’s been a great day. Honestly, it’s been a lot of fun with everyone here.”