JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, SC – Sounds of gunfire cut through hot summer air. Loudspeakers warn of an incoming chemical attack as Airmen run for shelter. Plate carriers weigh them down. Rifles are held at low ready. Anyone who is not currently posted on guard seeks to check accountability under cover.
These aren’t Special Warfare Airmen. This team includes maintainers, loadmasters and medical personnel among others.
Yet as the field of global warfare rapidly shifts, all Airmen must be empowered to meet challenges of a hostile environment. During pre-deployment, Airmen are taught necessary expeditionary skills through the Ready Airmen Training (RAT) program, an Air Force-wide initiative carried out at base level.
The RAT program on JB Charleston, implemented by their Agile Combat Employment (ACE) cell, is now a week-long intensive course adjusted in early 2023 to compress months of previously separate classes.
“We’re able to train to 41 objectives in 3.5 days, versus several months,” said Tech. Sgt. Timothy Morin, noncommissioned officer in charge of the ACE cell on JB Charleston.
RAT training holds Airmen to Air Force-wide standards of expeditionary skills such as active threat response, explosive ordnance hazards, basic communication, law of war and small arms firing, among other disciplines, explained Morin. This broader scope of learning, beyond an Airman’s primary career field, prepares them to work in all environments and perform cross-functional duties.
One example of cross-functional duties would be calling a maintainer to work as Security Forces, Morin added, and ACE training provides that capability for multiple career fields. Multi-capable Airmen allow units to deploy with a smaller footprint, supporting Air Force Force Generation (AFFORGEN) policies under the wider objectives of Gen. Charles Brown’s “Accelerate Change or Lose” memorandum.
While RAT training meets objectives and goals Air Force wide, individual locations have considerable freedom in implementing the courses. JB Charleston’s ACE cell in particular is comprised of personnel from five different primary squadrons; wing level command ensures consistent skill levels among all deployers from the base. The timeframe of RAT training is also left undetermined by AFI objectives, with this one-week timeline selected by JB Charleston to best support training without detracting from their daily base mission.
“Completing deployment training for our members in the format of Ready Airmen Training Week allows us to continue all of our normal operations, both on the flightline and on the base, without taking members away or having members completing training over several months,” said Morin.
The Airmen’s week of training closes with a final field exercise testing their expeditionary skills such as donning chemical warfare gear, weapons handling and implementing tactical casualty combat care. The largest RAT week exercise yet, on September 8th, saw over 100 service members from 17 different units working together despite sun, heavy gear and muffling gas masks to practice their new skills in attack and injury scenarios.
None of these conditions or challenges prevented JB Charleston Airmen from completing their mission, a small picture of broad Air Force success.
|Date Posted:||09.13.2023 11:36|
|Location:||JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, SC, US|