Posted on May 28, 2015
SSgt Security Forces
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I have noticed through the years of being in the Air Force (Security Forces member here) that most people in the Air Force are clueless when it comes to M-4/M-16/M-9. This is outrageous! What are they supposed to do if the enemy comes knocking on our door step and everyone needs to fight. I have taught classes on the M-4 with communication airmen and have seen them completely mess up clearing out the weapon, loading it (magazine upside down or rounds the wrong way), and just completely incapable of achieving a zero on target after four rounds of firing. I am a big fan of how the Army and Marines teach that your are always a rifleman first. It almost seems like some of the Airmen don't expect to carry a weapon (ummmm why did you join the military in the first place)? I wish the Air Force would pick up on this to make us a more combat ready force. But, enough of me what are your thoughts?
Edited 6 y ago
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SMSgt Operations Superintendent
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The Air Force was never intended to be a ground fighting unit. Back in the day, AF bases were protected by Army units for that very same reason. The ground fighting component of the AF is SF. Among our many duties, being the infantry of the AF is one of them. I started my military career in the Army and I will tell you that the AF as a whole was never designed to operate like the Army or Marines. The culture is completely different, and for good reason. The AF could not operate under the same culture as the Army or Marines. In SF, weapons are a tool for us. For the majority of the AF, a weapon is not a tool that they use in their day to day duties. ANd frankly, it should not be. I used to be CATM, and I can tell you that keeping an M-4 away from most AF members is a good thing.
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COL Old Soldier
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This is a bit dated post, but couldn't pass up making a comment. I'm a little perplexed that an Air Force Senior NCO would even ask this question in the first place. I don't think I could even respond to his question without flipping him an excessive amount of sarcasm and human excrement! With that said, I hope this individual is not stereotypical of the Senior NCO Corps, or the Officer Corps, of the US Air Force. And yes, as I was told in Afghanistan by an Air Force Captain....Sir, the Air Force is not like the other services, it's run like a corporation. The comment by this Senior NCO only solidifies the Senior NCOs comment above and makes me loathe the Air Force even more than I did after the Captain's comment above. If an Airman cannot carry his/her weight in the combat zone and be prepared for the worst case scenarios that end up playing out in combat, then we really don't need the Air Force to provide close support or supply support.....give the Marines and Army your A-10s, C-130s, and C-5s and leave the Air Force with the Strategic Bombing and ICBM mission. Because if they come in the combat zone not proficient with their individual weapon and tactical fire/maneuver skills in a fight.....leave them at home, cause they will be a burden and they might get the Soldier or Marine killed trying to cover their shortcomings. PO1 Miller's Meme is spot on.
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SMSgt Operations Superintendent
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COL (Join to see) - Which "question" are you referring to? If the SNCO you are referring to is me, I didn't ask a question. I made a comment based on my experience in the Air Force. Having started out my career in the Army, I know the difference between the two branches. You may not like it, but my assessment of the Air Force is accurate. The Air Force is great at their job. They don't need to be, nor do they strive to be like the other branches of the military.

You statement implies that everyone in the military, including the Army, should be Infantry. Even the Army doesn't meet your criteria. The majority of the Army are non-combat types. Besides basic training, most MOS's will never practice ground fighting skills. It would be a waste of time and money to have them spend all their time practicing Infantry skills instead of their own jobs. I started my career in the ASA. Those Intel types were very good at their jobs and lousy at ground fighting. Their strength was their brains not their brawn.

Each branch is different and their culture matches their needs during wartime. If we all were the same, then we wouldn't need the other branches.
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COL Old Soldier
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SMSgt (Join to see) - I believe if he were alive today, SGT Luke Frist, one of my Soldiers that was KIA in Iraq in 2004 (a Fuel Truck Driver) would beg to differ with your assessment. He wasn't an Infantryman, but he died fighting in ground combat. The take-away from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is the fact that the future battlefields of the world will no longer linear, but asymmetrical....meaning that the enemy can attack you from any direction, at any depth along the lines of communication, and you need to be prepared to defend yourselves. In the age of shrinking defense budgets and smaller military services, the Army and Marine Corps will not have a robust force to camp around an APOE/APOD and provide it security....the Air Force will need to do some of that for themselves. I'm guessing some Air Force vets that were at Tan Son Nhut Air Base during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam would argue that every Airman should carry and be able to effectively use a weapon in a war zone for defensive purposes. The expeditionary Air Force needs the capability to initially self deploy and defend itself, especially in an immature theater were we need to perform a contested theater opening operation with a "Near Peer" competitor (conventional force, not insurgents).....think Normandy France in WWII. Initially, the AF will need to establish expeditionary air fields and will need to provide its own defenses....because the Army and Marines will be heavily engaged in ground combat operations. And once the enemy knows you are there, they will use asymmetrical operations to attack you. The Air Force needs to be prepared.....I'm sure General "Hap" Arnold is rolling over in his grave at the thought of Airman not being able to carry and shoot an M4 rifle.
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SFC Interpreter/Translator
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SMSgt (Join to see) - while the reference was made to combat zones and that AF does their mission tasking well, allow this old NCO add what I feel is incorrect. If a post gets over run an there are a Battalion size group of AF rats, would Army personnel have the time to teach AF how to return fire? I doubt one would have the time!
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PO1 John Miller
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Completely in jest. I have seen people in all branches who should be permanently downloaded (having their weapons privileges revoked).
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LTC Ronald Stephens
LTC Ronald Stephens
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Long before my son who is now in his 12th year in the Air Force,and up for MSgt E-7 and not knowing what would be required of him when it comes to the use of the M16, M4, I decided that if he had to qualify with either he would shoot expert. I spent quite a few hours with hin and the M16 clone (not fully automatic) making sure he would have no problem qualifying. He as succeeded spectacularly in that he was invited to recreationally shoot with the PJs at his last CONUS duty station in addition to his regularly qualifying expert.
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LtCol Bruce Janis
LtCol Bruce Janis
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As a retired cop, there are some who were more of a danger to themselves than the bad guy
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SrA James Hall
SrA James Hall
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Cpl Ray Frigerio - If someone tells him to, independent thinking was never one of the proficiencies of a Marine.
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Sgt Thomas Proctor
Sgt Thomas Proctor
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Col Joseph Lenertz - Great response. I was thinking why the first response is that everyone has to defend the base? Someone has to ready the planes for take-off, they are much safer in the air during an attack, load the bombs, refuel and keep the planes flying. It's kind of hard to do these things while firing a rifle. Leave base security to the ones trained for such events. In a combat zone I am sure that there will always be a contingent of Army or Marines on the base. I was in SF and we spent our time on the firing range and training, of course today's SF are much better armed and trained than in 1959.
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Col Joseph Lenertz
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Everyone sees things through their own experiences. If I were an AF Security Forces officer, I might share your opinion. As a pilot, I was required to qualify annually on my assigned personal weapon, the M-9, because aircrew members deploy more than other AF personnel. So far that makes sense. So why not go to the much bigger effort and expense of making us like the Army or Marine Corps and force every Airman to qualify annually? To put it as simply as possible, because there is a fixed amount of time and money, and there isn't an Air Force base in Afghanistan or Iraq or anywhere else we fight. When deployed, we generally either to deploy to large Airbases in-country with our Army, Navy, and Marine brethren (who are responsible to protect the base) or out-of-country where the threat is much lower (SA, Qatar, Bahrain, etc). I know there are exceptions, especially for our Special Forces community...but then they are qualified on their personal weapons, aren't they? In order to be the best at Our Job as Airmen, we spend our time and money on training aircrew, mechanics, and all the other support functions necessary to keep airpower supporting the Joint Force Commander. If we spent lots of time and money to be like the Army and the Marines, we would be better infantrymen but worse airmen.
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SgtMaj Sergeant Major/First Sergeant
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Well said,Col!
I had the privilege of attending a few schools and served alongside some of your PJ’s. They were extremely professional and totally down to earth. Less is, no one would have known that they were airmen. Nonetheless, If I may respectfully offer the following :
I understand the need for maintaining proficiency on all your quals... After all, they are perishable skills that need constant training in order to maintain proficiency. However, from the ground perspective, one can never have too many eyes on target. Weapon Proficiency is part of being a member of an Armed Force. I respectfully offer that dedicating a few hours a year for weapons proficiency will 1. Increase self esteem 2. Sharpen your warrior skills and 3. Add that extra umpt to our standings in the world as the premier fighting force be it air, water, and ground.
PS: The airfield @ Camp Leatherneck was almost lost to insurgents... several platforms were saved because of the initial actions of aviation personnel on the flightline.
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MSgt Peter Vatistas
MSgt Peter Vatistas
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The issue isn’t just weapons qualification. Troops would all need ground combat training, advanced combat training, tracing in operating in a joint forces environment, multiple weapon systems, combat communications, patrolling, etc., etc., etc.

That’s why we have Security forces. They DO forward patrol, convoy, perimeter security, access security, and all get joint forces CCC training. The AF is also rarely alone on a FOB, so we have the Army and Narines right there.
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LtCol Bruce Janis
LtCol Bruce Janis
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Sorry COL, there have been incidents stateside where bases were put on alert. Main gate at NAS Pensacola comes to mind. Sad to say, but your security guards are probably better trained than the average Airman. Except the APs, of course.
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Col Joseph Lenertz
Col Joseph Lenertz
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LtCol Bruce Janis - I agree, there have been bases placed on alert, and most SF are better trained than the average Airman. But when no one on base (except SF) is allowed to carry, it doesn't make a difference how qualified they are. The vast majority of us on base are unarmed, and POTUS and Congress don't want us to be armed. They don't mind vulnerability. What bothers them is power they don't control.
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