Tag Archives: training

Photo of the day, Dec. 16, 2011

SERE jump

Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sean Marlow, a survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) specialist, performs a free-fall parachute jump from a UH-1N Iroquois helicopter above Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., Dec. 5, 2011. Both static line and free-fall training courses are mandatory to become a SERE specialist. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Taylor Curry)

Advanced Combat Controller Training

Advanced Combat Controller Training

This blog focuses on a Senior Airman that has done something out of the box. Senior Airman David Salinitri, a public affairs specialist for the Air Force Special Operations Command, has taken the challenge to go through combat controller training for documentation. He is wearing a helmet cam to show the world firsthand what it takes to be a combat controller.

“I can bench press near 250lbs, but when it came to having to maneuver my way through this rope course, the course definitely had its way with me.”

Airman Salinitri walks us through his experiences and how he performs while training. He is required to go through courses like rope climbing, water confidence, buddy breathing, etc. As I perused his videos and images, I felt the pain our Airmen endure to defend our nation. It makes me want to be there and not be there at the same time. Combat Controllers are much respected Airmen with a huge sense of pride, and if I was in their shoes I would feel the same way. Interested in learning more? Take a deep breath, and prepare for a blog that falls just short of coating you in sweat. Yeah, it’s that intense. Check it out.

PHOTO: Combat Control students from the Special Tactics Training Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., assemble their gear during water confidence training, Sept. 9, 2010 here.

Reflecting on Seven Weeks with Marines

This is the fourth blog entry for Master Sgt. David Wolfe, a security forces Airman from Scott Air Force Base, Ill., who trained at the Marine Corps Staff NCO Academy at Camp Pendleton in southern California. He volunteered for it after learning slots were available for Air Force senior NCOs.

“I knew this would be a challenge and the opportunity to work with the Marine Corps for seven weeks sounded like an awesome chance to grow personally and professionally,” said Sergeant Wolfe, who enlisted in the Air Force in 1992 and has served all over the world, to include the Middle East, Germany, Italy, Alaska and Wyoming. “My wife did three years in the Marine Corps and my oldest son enlisted last summer just after I left for Iraq, and is currently in tech school, so we have some family connection to the Corps as well.”

Check out his previous posts: Week 1, Week 2 and Week 3.

I recently had the distinct professional privilege of spending seven weeks at the US Marine Corps Staff NCO Academy Advanced Course. Seeing how another service conducts enlisted PME was a serious eye opener. Here are some of my thoughts after this incredible experience.

First and foremost, if you get the opportunity to volunteer to train with another service, jump all over it! Spending time with the Marines was one of the best experiences of my career and cannot be duplicated with a joint PME computer based training class. I learned that it’s never too early to get your haircut, and that calling your peers by their full rank and name instead of just first name is not hazardous to your health. The level of professionalism, or “moto” the Marines display both on and off-duty is tremendous.

Second, I learned that PT is a team sport. While your score on the test is yours and yours alone, preparation should be done as a unit, with some motivational tools woven into the fabric of every session. Developing an all-around fitness program rather than solely working on exercises required for any particular game of physical fitness testing is paramount. We are training for the possibility of carrying our wingman on our shoulders and out of harm’s way, not for a 1.5 mile run.

Lastly, I learned that no matter what task you are completing, the clock ticks at the same rate. Your ability to mentally block out uncomfortable physical situations will directly lead to an increase in your stamina. This will lead to Airmen who can sustain more physical demands in any environment. Running the hills of Camp Pendleton taught me that whatever your think you can endure physically, you can do more. Push yourself in PT, run through discomfort, and you will see an increase you did not think possible.

Thanks to the Staff NCO Academy at Pendleton for an awesome experience this Airman won’t forget.

Training with Marines: Week Three

This is the third blog entry for Master Sgt. David Wolfe, a security forces Airman from Scott Air Force Base, Ill., who is training at the Marine Corps Staff NCO Academy at Camp Pendleton in southern California. He volunteered for it after learning slots were available for Air Force senior NCOs.

“I knew this would be a challenge and the opportunity to work with the Marine Corps for seven weeks sounded like an awesome chance to grow personally and professionally,” said Sergeant Wolfe, who enlisted in the Air Force in 1992 and has served all over the world, to include the Middle East, Germany, Italy, Alaska and Wyoming. “My wife did three years in the Marine Corps and my oldest son enlisted last summer just after I left for Iraq, and is currently in tech school, so we have some family connection to the Corps as well.”

You can read his previous experiences HERE and HERE.

Week 3

The Marine Corps Advanced Course marches on here at Camp Pendleton with the academic schedule accelerating over the last two weeks. As of today, we are finished with the officially graded assignments and everyone seems to have done well.

PT has been tough as usual. I mentioned in my last post we were scheduled for a run called baby tears, and it was difficult – as advertised. A 4-mile run to the top of a training range, followed by a run back down to the bottom. Climbing for two miles straight does a number on your legs, and coming down, while faster, is equally as hard on the knees and ankles. We followed that up the next day with a circuit course, and one of the stations was the o-course itself.

The academic week was focused on the Marine Corps version of our OJT program, with an in-depth analysis of how the Marines ensure combat readiness across the Corps. Some similarities exist, but the system is largely focused around the idea of a constant training environment, something we sometimes cannot enjoy with home station mission requirements.

One of the highlights of the week was a pt session called run-swim-run. Camp Pendleton is divided into many geographically independent camps. Since our camp does not have a pool, we ran to an adjacent camp, a two-mile journey through the woods and brush on a trail with a few ups and downs. At the end of the two miles, a quick shower was followed by a refreshing dip in the pool. While I am not the strongest runner, I luckily have no problem in the pool. A quick down and back, and we were out of the pool and back on the trail to our camp. In the end, a four-mile run, with a quick swim in the middle. It was a great PT session, and of course it was competitive as usual. The pool being the great equalizer, I was able to improve my finish by about 25 places.  

A few group mentoring sessions this week with the Sergeant Major (equivalent of our CMSgt), have left me with a better understanding of the Marine Corps rank structure and relationships between the senior enlisted ranks. A split occurs when Marines are promoted to the grade of E-8, with some Marines becoming MSgt’s and some pinning on the rank of First Sergeant. I was able to provide a brief synopsis of our rank structure, hopefully shedding some light on our promotion system.

We ran a second Marine Corps PT Test this morning. It was not for score, just a measuring stick for the schools PT program. I can attest it has worked, as my 3-mile run time improved nearly two minutes, and I was able to keep myself in a new group of runners on the way. Even though every Marine knew the score did not count, everyone I saw was giving 100%, another testament of the dedication of these great professionals.

More from Camp Pendleton on graduation week.

(Picture attached: Gunnery Sergeants Truite, Raterink, and Standifird, along with me getting ready for the PT test 2 June 2010. The shirt we are wearing is the school PT uniform.)

Training with the Marines

 This is the second blog entry for Master Sgt. David Wolfe, a security forces Airman from Scott Air Force Base, Ill., who is training at the Marine Corps Staff NCO Academy at Camp Pendleton in southern California. He volunteered for it after learning slots were available for Air Force senior NCOs.

“I knew this would be a challenge and the opportunity to work with the Marine Corps for seven weeks sounded like an awesome chance to grow personally and professionally,” said Sergeant Wolfe, who enlisted in the Air Force in 1992 and has served all over the world, to include the Middle East, Germany, Italy, Alaska and Wyoming. “My wife did three years in the Marine Corps and my oldest son enlisted last summer just after I left for Iraq, and is currently in tech school, so we have some family connection to the Corps as well.”

You can read his first-week experience HERE.

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Week 2.  

With just over two full weeks under my belt, things are beginning to take shape.

This week’s PT regimen was especially taxing, but considering the Gunnery Sergeants here are on average 6 years my junior, I think I am holding up well despite my extra wear. Perhaps the most grueling session this week was called Mateo Loop. The total distance of this run was 6 miles, starting with a one mile formation run to the start point. The base of the hill did not look too bad at first. After cresting the hill, and thinking we were home free, we realized we had just begun to climb. A second hill of longer distance and more incline put us on top of Mateo with a nice view of the rest of Camp Pendleton. Several smaller rolling hills followed until we finally finished near the base of our start point.

Also worthy of note, this was a “Popsicle stick” run, meaning as each person crossed the finish line, he or she was given a numbered Popsicle stick based on overall finish order. The platoon with the lowest overall total was given immunity from clean up day on Thursday, and while I am not sure how much my finish helped the team, my platoon won the overall prize! Our RECON/JTAC Marines and drill instructors must have carried us nicely. There were some good hearted jabs from members of my platoon to others, something like “we beat you, and we have the Air Force guy!” We were all very pleased with our victory. The competition element of PT keeps people motivated.

And then there was the “Spartan Run”. Sounds fun, right? Actually, it was fun, and was competitive like Mateo Loop. This time, a one mile run, 20 push-ups, 20 crunches, 20 air squats, followed by another mile run, then 30-30-30 of the same exercises, then another mile run, ending with 50-50-50, same exercises. In the end – a 3 mile run and 300 repetitions. Another great PT event was Casualty Evacuation day. First, we completed the individual effort portion, consisting of 2 minutes each of push-ups and sit-ups. Then the team portion started with a ten-minute pull-up competition where we lined up alphabetically and took turns on the pull-up bar by platoon. Our score was determined by total pull ups done by the entire platoon. Then, as a platoon of twenty, we were issued flack vests, Kevlar, and weapons ranging from M-240G machine guns (the infantry version of the 240B Security Forces uses), M-249’s, and dummy M-16’s. We were given two litters, several 30lb ammo cans, and two full five-gallon water jugs. Our task was to carry two casualties and all the gear a distance of about 1 mile. The casualties were our platoon members, and each had to weigh 170lbs each.

After a Kevlar-toss competition to determine starting position, my platoon was on the poll position thanks to a perfect throw by our Platoon Sergeant Gunnery Sergeant Jeffrey Wright. After moving as fast as possible down the dirt road and back to the starting position, our platoon finished just seconds behind another platoon. Did I mention our attire was what the Marines call “boots and utes”? That’s just another way of saying we did it in ABU’s minus ABU top. We also took our first written academic test this week. The test was largely based on infantry concepts, most familiar to me from my background in airbase defense. We are also working this weekend on an operations order, and my group has been tasked to write an order to defend an airfield.

One piece of the academy I am enjoying most is the use of a concept called “values based training”. After each PT session, one of the cadre or a student gets in front of the group and discusses a topic. These range from unit cohesion, to teamwork, to combat readiness. There is a reason why we do everything we do – to ready us to perform under pressure. When the chips are down, if we have trained hard and taken advantage of the adversity we have been given, we will be ready. This concept is a pre-designated mentoring session. It’s something we do in the Air Force as well, but not with structure and maybe not as often as we should. After the first two plus weeks, things are going well.

Tomorrow morning, we hit a 4-mile incline called Baby Tears.

Trust me, there is nothing about it that looks easy.