News>Feature - Combat Arms Training and Maintenance's "Course of Fire"
Senior Airman Russell Stout, a Security Forces member of the 185th Air Refueling Wing, Sioux City, Iowa, instructs fellow Air National Guardsmen in weapons safety and operation before firing for qualification on 6 November, 2011. (US Air Force photo by TSgt Brian Cox)
Tech. Sgt. Michael Pope, of the 185th Air Refueling Wing Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM) unit, oversees a line a shooters during M4 qualifications in Sioux City, Iowa. The 185th's CATM is responsible for both training airmen in combat arms and maintaining the weapons. (U. S. Air Force Photo/ 2nd Lt. Jeremy J. McClure)
Staff Sergeant Thad Miller, a Security Forces (CATMS) member of the 185th Air Refueling Wing, Sioux City, Iowa, supervises a fellow Air National Guardsman as she fires for qualification on 6 November, 2011. (US Air Force photo by TSgt Brian Cox)
Senior Airman Russel Stout explains the course of fire to members of the 185th Air Refuleing Wing, Sioux City, Iowa, on 5 November, 2011. The 185th's CATM is responsible for both training airmen in combat arms and maintaining the weapons. (US Photo by 2LT Jeremy J. McClure)
by 2nd Lt. Jeremy J. McClure and Tech. Sgt. Brian Cox
185th Public Affairs
12/3/2011 - SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- When thinking of the Air National Guard, most people conjure up images of aircraft lifting off from a runway and climbing into a wide open blue sky. They picture airmen climbing on planes and meticulously checking every component to keep that plane flying. Rarely do people think about rifles and pistols. For some airmen, combat is not done miles above a target but rather mere meters from the enemy. For the men and woman of Security Forces, combat can be up close and personal.
Security forces are the first line of defense for air base personnel at any installation. They man the weapons that would deny an attacking force a victory. Rifles, pistols, and machine guns are expertly handled by these Airmen on a daily basis. In today's ever changing battle fields, it is important that every Airman can defend themselves. And when you want to learn how to handle a weapon, you go to the experts.
No matter what job an Airman has signed up for, they will still learn how to use a rifle and show their proficiency with it. A select few Security Forces personnel are selected for Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM).
Master Sgt. Alan Rouse with the 185th Air Refueling Wing's CATM said, "Familiarity with weapons and competency in shooting skills are essential. If the Airman can't shoot, how can they teach others to shoot?"
Airmen qualify with the rifle under the careful supervision of CATM. They engage targets at various distances and in different firing positions. CATM personnel dedicate themselves to ensure that every Airman is ready to not only to fly, but also to fight and win no matter the weapon.
"We fix their mistakes so that they will be effective marksmen in the field," Master Sgt. Rouse said.
CATM personnel are responsible for instructing Airmen on the weapons they employ. Those weapons could be as small as a 2 pound pistol or as large as the 75 pound .50 caliber machine gun.
"Our job is to know all the small arms assigned to our unit and be familiar with all the assets for the Air Force," explained Master Sgt. Rouse.
Like any machine, weapon parts wear out and need to be repaired periodically. In addition to arms training, CATM personnel make sure that any firearm handed to an airman is safe and ready to fire in combat. No matter where Airmen deploy, they need to know that the weapons they use to defend themselves will be as ready for the fight as they are.
While the Air National Guard continues to provide air superiority, airmen across the globe can rest assured that the men and women in CATM are working to keep things safe on the ground.