Air Force utilizes Bliss for predeployment training
By Maj. Deanna Bague, Fort Bliss Public Affairs
/ Published February 03, 2009
MCGREGOR RANGE, N.M -- As a tenant unit at Fort Bliss, Airmen assigned to the 204th Security Forces Squadron are fully aware of the assets they have in their own backyard and utilized them the first three weeks in January to train fellow Airmen preparing to deploy.
"Fort Bliss' 1.2 million acres of training area and live-fire ranges are more than adequate for our small mission in comparison to the Fort Bliss big operation," said Air Force Master Sgt. Robert Johnson, operations noncommissioned officer in charge for the 204th SFS.
More than 200 security forces members from the Air National Guard and active-duty components trained here on mounted and dismounted patrols, combat first aid, urban operations, and participated in a convoy live-fire as part of their predeployment skills set package.
This was the first time for many of the Airmen to engage in a live-fire, said Johnson. The Airmen moved their vehicles down a 10-kilometer route and engaged targets during the movement.
"Quite frankly, an Air Force base is not designed to support those kinds of firings," said Johnson.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Russell Boozer, a security police officer from the 144th Fighter Wing, California Air National Guard, said this was the first time he participated in a live-fire here and felt it was good practice.
"It's good experience - good timing [since] we're going downrange," said Boozer. "These are very good training grounds. It's wide open; a lot of areas to do things with."
Boozer added that the exercise afforded him and other Airmen the opportunity to train on how to deal with civilians on the battlefield. The Airmen had to discriminate between friendly and hostile targets as they rolled across the convoy lane.
Johnson said his unit also utilized the ranges to expose the Airmen to other nontraditional Air Force-type weapons scenarios, including full-distance Army qualification, alternate firing positions, close-quarters marksmanship, and transition firing using M4 and M9 firearms.
This is the eighth iteration of deploying Airmen the 204th SFS has prepared. Johnson said the Air Force Security Forces Center provides the curriculum the cadre utilizes. "We're giving them the finest training they have ever received," said Johnson. "We break the Air Force training mold by doing it at Fort Bliss."