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Molding Resilient Reserve Airmen Defenders
by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christina Russo
April 6, 2023

More than 25 Reserve Citizen Airmen defenders with the 459th Security Forces Squadron, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, participated in the Integrated Defense Leadership Course from March 13-26, 2023, at Camp James A. Garfield Joint Military Training Center and Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio.

Whether in the classroom or in the field, Defenders from the 459th SFS were pushed to their limits. Throughout the duration of the course, IDLC cadre injected stressors to provide a more real-world approach to combat training.

Reserve Citizen Airmen assigned to the 459th Security Forces Squadron, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, fire a M240B machine gun and a M249 light machine gun during a static defense exercise on March 20, 2023 at Camp James A. Garfield Joint Military Training Center, Ohio. Defenders from the 459th SFS participated in a two-week Integrated Defense Leadership Course to develop combat readiness skills needed for wartime situations. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christina Russo.)
Reserve Citizen Airmen assigned to the 459th Security Forces Squadron, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, fire a M240B machine gun and a M249 light machine gun during a static defense exercise on March 20, 2023 at Camp James A. Garfield Joint Military Training Center, Ohio. Defenders from the 459th SFS participated in a two-week Integrated Defense Leadership Course to develop combat readiness skills needed for wartime situations. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christina Russo.)

“It is important to expose Airmen to the elements, to show them elements are merely obstacles that can be overcome with proper planning,” said Tech. Sgt. Darnnelle Gibbs, an IDLC cadre member assigned to the 514th Security Forces Squadron, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. “Tactical movements during cold weather differ from warm weather and how noise discipline is in their favor during rainfall versus no rainfall.”

Under the Air Force Reserve Command’s stress inoculation program, IDLC cadre provide third-party mentoring and coaching to students on how to respond to stressful situations as a team and as individuals.

“The 459th SFS demonstrated a great deal of growth in their collective skills and their abilities to deal with stress in ways that resulted in positive outcomes for the team,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jason Knepper, AFRC security forces training manager.

While under stress, Defenders gain essential skills necessary for combat. According to Knepper, such skills are otherwise unavailable to be obtained during a routine Unit Training Assembly weekend.

“Patrolling, mission planning, establishing and executing an integrated static defense line, and employing security forces weapons and equipment are difficult skills to address on unit training weekends due to the advanced subject matter, time and space requirements, and the competing obligations at home station,” said Knepper.

Reserve Citizen Airmen assigned to the 459th Security Forces Squadron, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, communicate defense strategies on March 20, 2023 at Camp James A. Garfield Joint Military Training Center, Ohio. Defenders from the 459th SFS participated in a two-week Integrated Defense Leadership Course to develop combat readiness skills needed for wartime situations. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christina Russo.)
Reserve Citizen Airmen assigned to the 459th Security Forces Squadron, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, communicate defense strategies on March 20, 2023 at Camp James A. Garfield Joint Military Training Center, Ohio. Defenders from the 459th SFS participated in a two-week Integrated Defense Leadership Course to develop combat readiness skills needed for wartime situations. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christina Russo.)

IDLC is designed to mold resilient Defenders capable of fulfilling the mission no matter the situation.

“This course helps build more confident leaders and helps identify gaps in skills that can be addressed to produce a more balanced Airman,” said Gibbs. “We as cadre members plan on exposing young Airmen to leadership roles and giving them obtainable tasks, which will boost confidence and perhaps the desire to take on larger tasks.”

While constant adjustments are being made to the IDLC curriculum, the time frame in which to teach it remains unchanged. Training is limited to a two-week time period where IDLC cadre forge innovative ways to teach and mold a more resilient security force capable of taking on any stressors while completing the mission.

“The Defenders that attend IDLC contend with many stressors; absence from family, long training days, difficult standards, weather, and terrain,” said Knepper. “Overwhelmingly, they complete IDLC with a positive sense of accomplishment and a better understanding of their abilities, the abilities of their teammates, and an experience that they know will serve them in the future. The weather, the training and the terrain are all friction points that polish and hone the edges of these Defenders ... they don’t shy away from it at all; they embrace it.”

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