Friday, 16 July 2004

Realistic training through paintball

USAFE News Story
Another news story related to realistic training, this one involves the use of paintballs.

By Senior Airman Kenya Shiloh
39th Wing Public Affairs

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (USAFENS) -- Members 39th Security Forces Squadron here are taking their tactical training to a whole new level. Instead of traditional classroom training, they’ve decided to make their training a little more realistic – by using paintballs and inviting their Turkish counterparts to join them for a little “friendly” competition.

The object of this type of training is similar to a normal paintball game. Each team’s objective is to capture the other team’s ammunition; however they run scenarios and tactics they would use during a normal exercise or in a wartime environment.

Turkish and U.S. security forces work along side each other on a daily basis, but this is the first time they’ve had the opportunity train together.

“When the Turkish air force plays with us, we integrate the troops. We usually put two airmen with one Turkish military member on one team and one airman and two Turkish members together on another team,” Staff Sgt. Geoff Dunkelberger, 39th Security Forces Squadron section flight chief, said. “The training helps the U.S. and Turkish forces better understand each other’s tactics and training and improves our overall relationship with the Turkish air force.”

Dunkelberger said their first integrated exercise went very well. He said the TuAF caught on to the object of the game pretty quickly and were tough opponents.

“There was one TuAF member who took out a whole team on his own and captured their ammo. So the next time we go out with them to train. I think a few of our security forces members will be gunning for him to try and beat him. It’s just good, clean competition.”

Paintball is not the only training they receive while they’re out on the obstacle course. During a previous training session, each unit had the opportunity to show their “hardware” with a weapons demonstration, which gave each member a better understanding of when, how and why the other unit uses a particular weapon.

So far, the feedback from security forces and Turkish air force members has been positive. One security forces member said the training was more hands-on and it showed him how important it was to take cover and use the tactics he’s been taught.

“This training is more intense and realistic because when you get shot with a paintball it actually hurts; plus, we were able to use the tactics we were taught and apply them to the scenarios we ran here,” said Senior Airman Happyvalley Patu, a 39th SFS security forces patrolman. “Normally we simulate everything we’re supposed to do, or we use MILES gear. So this is a drastic, yet positive change from what we’re used to doing.”

Military-issued laser engagement system (MILES) gear is more like playing laser tag, when a person is hit, their gear starts buzzing but their not really affected by it, however, with paintball, if a person is hit they can see it as well as feel it.

“When using this type of equipment, you actually have paint balls flying past your head,” Dunkelberger said. “This is as close to bullets as we’re going to get and it teaches members to practice cover, concealment and fire control measures.”

For now, the training is scheduled for at least once a quarter and averages about eight hours at a time. Usually there are at least three flights that compete against each other, except when the Turkish air force joins the training.

“The more we know about each other, our tactics and our weapons usage, the more consistent we are and the better our working relationship with the host nation will be,” Dunkelberger said.

Lt. Col. Gary Essary, 39th SFS commander, brought the paint ball training idea to the attention of the security forces training section.

“The colonel said they did something like this at his last base because it was as close to realistic combat training as we’re going to get,” said Dunkelberger. “We did some research on this and found that many security forces squadrons throughout the Air Force are incorporating this type of training into their curriculums.”

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