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Cal Guard Security, Emergency Management Forces Train Together

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kalia Jenkins,
  • 146th Airlift Wing

CHANNEL ISLANDS AIR NATIONAL GUARD STATION, Calif. - A four-person fire team stacks up outside a doorway of a two-story building made of shipping containers with burn scars on them. Armed with M4A1 carbine training rifles, they clear each space inside, challenging actors performing as hostiles and retrieving volunteer hostages. Another team in chemical suits and gear is on standby, ready to respond to any chemical, biological, nuclear or radiological scenario.

The training exercise was conducted Sept. 8-9, in Camarillo by the 146th Security Forces Squadron and the Emergency Management Flight, part of the Civil Engineer Squadron, assigned to the 146th Airlift Wing on Channel Islands Air National Guard Station.

This exercise was the inaugural effort between the 146 SFS and the 146 CEX, as they worked together to enter and clear buildings in close-quarter battle scenarios with close-quarter combat techniques. The exercise occurred at the Ventura County Fire Department training center, also used by Oxnard College Fire Academy and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.

” We are super lucky that we have these nice training facilities right outside our base that they have let us come out here and use,” said U.S. Air National Guard Master Sgt. Tess Ariza, a first sergeant assigned to the 146 SFS. “It’s cool working with the local community. It shows that the Guard trains with the sheriffs and the Fire department and that they can see us out here. The troops also like getting outside the base and doing hands-on training. That’s why they joined, and that’s why they come to drill.”

Seven 146 SFS members and four 146 CEX members began the exercise, with four new 146 SFS members joining on the second day.

The integrated teams performed 14 iterations of clearing a building. During the last few, SFS used their M4A1 carbine rifles with “simuntions” — rounds filled with paint and made to fit the M4. They identify if a round was fired and where it hit the target. , says this helped team members and instructors analyze if role players used the lowest force required.

“We try to use the least force possible, said Senior Airman Justin Rosales, assigned to the 146 SFS. “We prefer to use our communication. We call it verbal judo in law enforcement. We will challenge them, ‘Hey, put the gun down,’ ‘I need you to do what I tell you to do,’ and then, depending on what we call the totality of circumstances, that will determine what other use of force we will use.” 

Airman 1st Class Jessie Tavares, an exercise participant assigned to the 146 SFS, says integration was another critical term used by most participants in the exercise.

“It’s great to work with Emergency Management because they know things that us Security Forces won’t know or have too much knowledge in, and they can share that information with us, and that’s another thing we can take into consideration before focusing on the close quarter battle portion of the training,” said Tavares.

Tech. Sgt. Josh Farol, an emergency manager and the lead role player with the 146th Emergency Management Flight, said it was “good to integrate with other squadrons and teams, see different ways to do things, and learn different tactics we’re unfamiliar with.”

The culminating event for the exercise included a scenario where exercise intelligence analysts identified a possible chemical lab being set up and used in a small two-story structure. An eight-person team from the 146 SFS cleared the building of enemy combatants, coming into contact with simulated unknown chemical agents while coordinating critical information with the 146 CEX.

Next, the four team members from 146 CEX cautiously entered the building using their joint chemical agent detector, which detects and identifies chemical agents and toxic vapors. They determined the unknown substance and contained it, completing the mission.

Maj. Timothy Chow, the 146 Civil Engineer Squadron commander, said the training helps Airmen be more agile and flexible while performing duties outside their normal purview in locations where they may not have all the tools generally at their disposal.

“It’s all about that agile combat employment and our multicapable Airmen who are trying to ensure that we can still accomplish the mission without all the desired resources we may not have,” Chow said.