Advanced Contingency Skills Training Day One — This is the first in a series from Airmen at the U.S. Air Force’s Expeditionary Center who are attending various classes in order to prepare them for upcoming deployments. Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski offers this post. Future posts will highlight the efforts Airmen are taking at this “schoolhouse” to prepare them. The Air Force and Airmen are in the fight — 70% deployed since 9-11, said the service’s senior Airman. We’ll post more here (photos and video too) from the various Airmen in the course.
“The hope is that you never have to use what we have to teach you.”
And with that, the Advanced Contingency Skills Training course began for several hundred of us at Fort Dix, N.J., today.
What’s significant is the mix of people in the class. There are several of us Public Affairs specialists, but we also have people from contracting, civil engineers and our squad leader is a flight doctor. Certainly not the high-speed fly-away security teams that train to go into combat areas to protect planes (those guys are training in the building next to ours — wow!).
But the Air Force has recognized the need for every Airman to get training when going downrange. There have been too many times when routine convoy missions became anything but because of roadside bombs or insurgent attacks.
They promise us that we’ll be tired, we’ll be sore and we’ll learn to love the mud. But at the end of the course, we’ll have gained skills to defend ourselves and others if we’re out and about while we’re deployed.
The great irony that they hope we’ll never use the skills they impart doesn’t make what they teach a waste of time and money. Rather, they share with us their own stories of when they were deployed. Like when one cadre member explained of his own recollections of being blown off the road in a convoy — yes, he’s an Airman.
This cadre member also told us about the servicemember who saved his (cadre) life only to lose his own four days before he was about to leave.
Another instructor generalized his bevy of his 14 deployments. And he’s traditionally an aerospace ground equipment mechanic.
So overall our instructors are here because they want to be here. “We want you to learn from our experiences,” the instructors tell us. They certainly have a lot of it.
Our collective hope is that once we’re no longer students, the instructors get their wish and we don’t have to use these new or re-honed skills. But if we do need them, we’ve got them.