Tag Archives: convoy

Air Force Week in Photos

By Staff Sgt. Delia Marchick
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

At the end of every work week the U.S. Air Force story is told through photos. This Week in Photos set includes a Purple Heart recipient, along with seven other photos that can be viewed here. Which photo is your favorite?

Purple Heart

Photo: U.S. Air Force Maj. Michael Epper, a Byram, N.J., native assigned to the 866th Air Expeditionary Squadron, was one of 12 service members recognized for actions taken Oct. 26, 2011, when their convoy was ambushed twice while traveling through Afghanistan’s Tangi Valley. The team successfully overcame a 45-minute complex attack in which insurgents used rocket-propelled grenades, small arms fire and improvised explosive devices. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katie Justen)

Advanced Contingency Skills training wraps up, Airmen move out

The graduates of the 16+ days of training at Ft. Dix, N.J. have something to be proud of, they’ve learned valuable skills that may save their life, or the lives of their fellow joint servicemembers on the ground.  Time and time again, we heard plenty of stories from Airmen and Soldiers about Airmen performing more and more ground missions outside the wire.  Gun truck stories, patrols, medical evacuations, you name it, it came up here.

An interesting point about this training has been that it appears to be creating a cultural shift in the Air Force, one from the ground up. Training and educating a few Airmen at a time on skills necessary to contribute to the fights on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Most of this training is completely new to Airmen.  The ground up training is led by the”senior” folks teaching the classes who weren’t senior in age or rank, but senior in experience.  Most instructors were Staff and Tech. Sgts; they were pros! Real pros with experience, motivation and Airmanship and these very few are providing skills that “hopefully will never be used,” according to an instructor on the first day.


The training from one student, Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski: “The training at the Air Force Expeditionary Center was above and beyond training I’ve received at other locations run by other services. The instructors pride themselves on their ability to motivate and stay motivated. That esprit de corps makes learning the material they have to teach more approachable and easier to retain.

Personally I know I’ll be using the skills we learned while we were here. When I deploy, I know I’ll be on convoys, I’ll have to know how to defend a forward operating base and if someone gets hurt, I feel confident that I’d be able to help keep them alive until medical professionals can treat them.

The biggest benefit for me has been the chance to document the course by carrying a camera and notepad on almost all our training days. As a result, I have more than a thousand photos for people to take home and remember not only what we learned, but with whom we all learned these valuable skills. We’ve made friends and gotten to know people who will deploy and work with us. I can’t wait to look them up when I get downrange.

For many Airmen, continuing to serve in the Air Force is largely due to the people in it. The last three weeks have been a testament to that thought as we prepare to go into harm’s way alongside these new comrades in arms. The confidence we have in ourselves and in our fellow Airmen will make mission accomplishment that much easier.”

This post is part of a series on the U.S. Air Force’s Advanced Contingency Skills Training at the Expeditionary Center at Ft. Dix, N.J.  Photos and video will be posted soon.

Urban, IED Detection and Convoy Training for Airmen

The past two training days opened eyes to what American servicemembers are experiencing in deployed locations supporting contingencies around the world.  However, specific details like tactics, techniques and procedures learned during these parts of the training will not be discussed due to their sensitive nature and potential for being used against our men and women in uniform.  Only generalities will be discussed. 

The urban training for Airmen was primarily for familiarization to what other services do.  Average Airmen aren’t experts in this type of combat, nor are they normally trained or equipped to be experts in this for this is not their primary mission.  The training we went through provided basic insight into how this type of combat is conducted.  The training solidified more teamwork and had our small teams moving, shooting and engaging in unison.  It was interesting, intense, stressful and fun and we have a deeper respect for our forces who do this mission.

Unlike engagements in an urban setting, many Airmen do find themselves in convoys, whether as riders or active gunners.  Our instructor reflected on the more than 300 missions he performed while in Iraq and discussed a lot of the pressures and scenarios as they happened to him when he rolled out the gates of his FOB. 

So are Airmen in convoys?  Yes.  Some may think that America’s airpower only comes from the skies supporting Soldiers and Marines on the ground with smart bombs, but Airmen do perform and are in convoys being hit today.  See how Air Force Airmen are engaged here and past accounts here, and here.

It was even more real when the instructor stated that all Airmen will land at an airfield somewhere, then will have to get to their base and “may need these skills to convoy.”  This couldn’t have been more true. 

This is an on-going series about the U.S. Air Force’s Advanced Contingency Skills Training at Ft. Dix, NJ.  More than 9,000 Airmen come through this course annually.