Real McCoy Contributor
U.S. Air Force doesnít just "fly" in the "wild blue
yonder" while their Army cousins are slugging it out in the
trenches on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Roberta
Ernest talks about mobilization to a group of Airmen assembled
at Fort McCoy for mobilization. Ernest is with the organization
that handles administrative tasks for Airmen. (Photo
by Tom Michele)
there is a distinct Air Force presence on the ground at Fort McCoy.
1,500 airmen have come through Fort McCoy for combat skills training
since March," Maj. Roberta Ernest said. Ernest is the commander
of Detachment 7, 602nd Training Group (Provisional).
important thing about the Air Force going through combat skills
training at Fort McCoy is the recognition that our nationís Airmen
are increasing the direct support of ground combat support and
combat-service-support missions side-by-side with their Soldier
counterparts," Ernest said.
Army had some personnel voids to fill, according to the Air Force
combatant commander asked for help from the Secretary of Defense, and
the Army, Air Force and Navy set up the Joint Sourcing Training
Oversight (JSTO) program to ensure our Airmen and Sailors have the
current ground combat skills necessary to effectively support the
many Airmen have had only limited ground combat skills training
because only a minimum skill set is necessary in support of some Air
Force core missions, Ernest explained. "So, Airmen come to Fort
McCoy to learn or improve their ground combat skills."
emphasized, "Airmen come to McCoy to be trained by the people who
have experience in combat skills, specifically the Army."
are trained to the U.S. Central Command minimum theater entry
requirements in accordance with the JSTO mission they will support; to
learn basic ground combat skill sets, Ernest said. JSTO has become an
Army, Air Force and Navy term for such training.
Sgt. Keith Vernon, the detachmentís acting first sergeant, said,
"Airmen donít do the Sol-dierís Creed. Airmen do the Airmenís
Creed. By that, I mean, Airmen retain their identity as Airmen even in
the joint and/or coalition environments."
said training an Airman gets in combat skills training includes
small-arms marksmanship, convoy operations, combat life saver, land
navigation, setting up an effective perimeter and treating wounded
small arms include crew-served weapons requiring two people to
effectively deploy and fire that weapon system.
with the dangers of improvised explosive devices is on the Airmenís
training list, although, and somewhat like their Soldier counterparts,
handling of explosives is performed by explosives ordnance
do get familiarization on various weapons systems, but we donít go
so far as to become qualified on them," Vernon said. "It is
very important that Airmen learn and perform basic combat skills to
save the lives of their joint or coalition teammates just like their
said, "Itís very important to effectively function and perform
so you Ďshoot, move, communicate and treat,í in the same manner as
a Soldier, and not become a liability to your team, or a statistic. We
learn the tactics that are current and relevant for operations on a
said, "These basic combat skills are a great confidence booster
so Airmen will be more prepared to handle combat situations when they
go down range, assist Soldiers and quite possibly have to defend
themselves and their joint or coalition teammates."
of our Airmen thought they wouldnít go outside the wire (base
perimeter)," Vernon said, "but they soon learned they were
part of a convoy to go from one base point to another, and then became
engaged in combat along the way. Many Airmen have e-mailed back to us
their thanks for the great training they have received. We have
received many such stories."
come here with a Warrior Airman mindset and leave with a well-rounded
Joint Warrior Airman mindset," Vernon concluded.
7 handles the administrative tasks for mobilizing Airmen. There are
similar detachments at Forts Dix, Lewis, Bragg, Riley, Bliss, Sill and
602nd Training Group is headquartered at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.
The training at Fort McCoy is conducted by the 181st Infantry Brigade,
the trainers for all of the mobilization at Fort McCoy.
is a public affairs specialist for Eagle Systems and Services Inc.,
contractor for CONUS Support Base Services.)