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Security Forces Conduct Defensive Tactics Training
by Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Tony Harp
September 27, 2018

A group of security forces Airmen gather around a beat-up Dodge Stratus. It’s no longer in running condition, but serves its purpose as a training aid for the unit.

The Airmen are watching a struggle between three of their counterparts that is taking place in the driver-seat of the vehicle. They cheer on the Airmen as the struggle wages on.

One Airman, who is playing the role of a subject, is clinging onto the steering wheel while two others are working to extract him from the vehicle.

Security forces specialists from the 193rd Special Operations Security Forces Squadron, Pennsylvania Air National Guard, conduct vehicle extraction drills on July 13, 2018 at the 193rd Special Operations Wing in Middletown, Pennsylvania. The 193rd SOSFS Airmen completed a customized three-day course by PFC Training that entailed defensive tactics, take-downs and holds, weapons retention and vehicle extraction. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Harp)

The conflict is like a game of inches, neither side wanting to give up precious ground. The struggle continues for more than five minutes, both sides working to establish a more dominant position.

There is a moment when it seems as though the training should be stopped, End of Exercise or ENDEX, as if ending the moment in a draw. However, like the real-world scenarios that the Airmen are training for, there will be no ENDEX, the training continues until a solution is achieved.

The lead instructor, sounds off and encourages the Airmen to continue to problem solve and try to find a solution. The struggle continues.

After the lengthy stalemate, the two Airmen back out of the vehicle and switch positions. One works to break the subject’s grasp on the steering wheel then grabs his legs, while the other locks on with a head and arm clinch hold. This time they execute with more precision, pulling the subject free from the vehicle and subduing him on the ground after a brief struggle.

It may have taken longer than the other interactions, but the Airmen worked through adversity, made adjustments, re-engaged and accomplished the task at hand.

This was just one of the many tasks the 193rd Special Operations Security Forces Squadron Airmen completed during a three-day course on defensive tactics held by Progressive F.O.R.C.E Concepts during July 2018 in Middletown, Pennsylvania.

“The training… focused on weapons retention and real-world practical applications for when we’re running missions in garrison or OCONUS,” said Tech. Sgt. Chris Burns, 193rd SOSFS unit training manager. “It was all pressure tested, hands on, very realistic training with our gear, with our rifle, pistol, everything.”

The first day of training consisted of defensive tactics where Airmen focused on defending themselves against an assailant, getting up off the ground while defending, weapons retention and bladed weapon defense. Day two consisted of building off the first day of training and adding takedowns and multiple holds to restrain a subject. These were both taught as single-man and two-man methods. During day three, the Airmen used everything they had learned from the previous days and applied it to vehicle extraction and scenarios with multiple assailants.

A security forces specialist (center) from the 193rd Special Operations Security Forces Squadron, Pennsylvania Air National Guard, defends himself during a multiple-assailant drill on July 13, 2018 at the Middletown High School in Middletown, Pennsylvania. The 193rd SOSFS Airmen utilized the four defensive concepts (mobility, winning the angle, distance management, and transition) they learned from the previous two days to defend themselves in a hostile situation. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Harp)

Jay Wadsworth, a Code 4 Concepts instructor with PFC Training and the lead instructor in this course, spoke of the four concepts behind the training: mobility, winning the angle, distance management, and transition. These four concepts create a foundation for the Airmen to problem solve any type of situation they may find themselves in.

“We always want our officers to be mobile,” said Wadsworth. “We always want to win the angle. We always want to have distance management, be able to disengage, engage with preference. And transition. Transition has multiple meanings. We can transition to a weapons system, we can transition from a takedown to another takedown, we could transition to being in contact and punch defense to disengaging. So those are the four main principles that we stress throughout the the three days of training.”

The training focused more on transitioning through these four concepts and then drilling on a few techniques that can be applied in multiple positions and scenarios.

“Techniques fail under pressure if they are not trained all the time,” said Wadsworth. “Concepts will be a much quicker way to learn and you can always resort to them when your technique fails. We as a company like to say, ‘Less is more.’ The less material we put out, the more they are going to retain. So we train a little, a lot. Our concepts are simplified and our system all rolls into one.”

The training stressed the importance of resistance training.

“We had great energy from the guys, we work them hard, we put them through resistance training,” said Wadsworth. “They start out doing single-man drills, then we put them into repping it out with a partner, and then we increase resistance so it’s almost into a fight situation. So they’re seeing where their technique will fail if they are not good at it, or they don’t train it enough and they have to resort back to their concepts.”

Burns said they will use the techniques and concepts to add to and help sharpen their skills during future training.

Throughout the training there were multiple situations like the stalemate that occurred during the vehicle extraction. Each time the Airmen continued to work through the issue, sometimes learning what works, other times learning what doesn’t work. These moments were also a chance for the class to stop, gather around and observe so everyone could learn from the moment.

Many of the Airmen commented on the intensity of the class and how beneficial the increased resistance of the drills were.

“I just hope we can get this culture changed out there of making training better and more concept-based rather than technique-based, and change the culture of not training with resistance,” said Wadsworth. “Training with resistance really shows and improves your ability to be ready for a real life threat.”

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