CATM; “we train in peace to prepare for war”

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tiffany Del Oso
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Airmen have a mission to fly, fight and win. In order to do this, each Airman from every career field must maintain a high level of proficiency in their daily skillset and their ability to protect and defend their country.

The 325th Security Forces Squadron is charged with the essential task of protecting the installation’s assets, but more importantly the people who keep the mission going. This includes providing a Combat Arms Training and Maintenance course where Airmen are taught to properly assemble, disassemble and shoot a multitude of weapons.

“The biggest importance of participating in a CATM course is weapons safety,” stated Tech. Sgt. Kyle Mills, 325th SFS noncommissioned officer in charge of combat arms. “Learning how to properly utilize a weapon if an [Airman] ever needs it to defend themselves or defend others [is critical].”

Mills stressed that respecting each weapon is just as important as firing it. During CATM, Airmen are taught general safety rules, how to properly clear out a weapon and to treat the weapons as if they are loaded at all times.

Due to the current rebuild state of Tyndall Air Force Base, the 325th SFS utilizes off-base ranges to conduct their firing training. Tyndall currently has a three-point indoor modular range that can be utilized if necessary, but CATM instructors prefer an outdoor environment.

“Firing on an outdoor range allows for a little bit more freedom on what you can do with movement and different shooting positions,” said Mills. “When you’re shooting on a fully enclosed indoor range, you’re limited to that space. Our three-point range gives us enough space to do qualifications and some sustainment firing, but otherwise it’s pretty closed in.”

Airmen often travel to Hurlburt Field or the local Gulf Coast State College to train in their outdoor firing ranges. Due to inclement weather, the latest CATM M4 carbine qualifications course was held at Tyndall’s modular range.

“While the indoor range is much smaller than where we were supposed to shoot, I felt like the instructors could take their time with each student when they needed help or had questions,” said Senior Airman Zane Geiger, 325th Civil Engineer Squadron requirements and optimization manager. “It’s really important to feel comfortable when firing a weapon and Tyndall’s range provides a controlled environment where each student can feel comfortable and confident in learning to handle their weapon.”

A combative skillset is not needed for all Airmen during daily operations at Tyndall, but mission readiness means Airmen are ready to perform when they are needed.

“Guiding [our students] on how to use their weapon accurately and sufficiently is extremely important,” said Staff Sgt. Cody Lawson, 325th SFS CATM instructor. “That way, you know that the person alongside you downrange that’s deployed or here stateside can defend you in a moment’s notice.”