Combat arms instructors train airmen for deployment

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt Gareth Buckland
  • 113th Wing Public Affairs
The Combat Arms Training and Maintenance instructors are not your usual airmen. They are an elite cadre of security forces, whose mission is to ensure that every airman and officer leaving for deployment is combat ready.

Not only do they teach the marksmanship of the weapon but also the care and maintenance of the weapon. With more deployments means a higher tempo, getting airmen in the range can be a challenge.

Fortunately, the range at Andrews AFB offers a convenience of being able to qualify without travelling to other ranges. The 25 meter range can simulate targets up to 300 meters.
"Whatever the weather, in the middle of winter we have the heat on. "In the summer we have the fans on," said Tech. Sgt. Renae Bounouas, 113th Security Forces CATM NCO in charge. "If it is raining we stay dry."

The CATM instructors are easily recognized with their red ball caps, their first priority is safety.
"Safety is the first thing we teach in the classroom, even before bringing out the weapons," she added.

Training mainly on the M-16, M-9, and M-4, the CATM instructors can see a marked improvement with the students over the course of the day, some of which have never fired a weapon since Basic Military Training. "There is a great deal of self satisfaction knowing by the end of the day [they] are ready to walk out the door into a real work situation," said Sergeant Bounouas.

The students start with a four-hour, hands-on classroom training where they learn how to handle the weapon, site the weapon, and more importantly, learn the fundamentals of marksmanship.

As the students enter the range, they are issued 100 rounds to practice and qualify. A team of CATM instructors observes the shooters keeping a watchful eye ensuring the students are safe and that they are practicing the skills learned in the classroom. As there can be a short 120 window to deploy, Airmen are encouraged to prepare early. By scheduling range time through their unit deployment managers, and showing up with the correct gear such as gas mask, helmet, and flack vest, this goes a long way in helping CATM's mission as often as they are responsible for training hundreds of airmen in a very short time frame, especially before a major deployment.