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NTTR ground training translates to success on battlefield

Ms. Jesse Hotchkiss fires an M2-50 caliber machine gun with the help of TSgt. Hameed Ashanti and SSgt. Alvernita Payne of the 99th Ground Combat Training Squadron Combat Arms. Seven area congressional staff delegates had the opportunity to tour the Nevada Test and Training Range’s ground combat training facility. They also received weapons familiarization training firing M2, Mk-19, M107, M2-40 rifles and grenades. The Nevada Test and Training Range is responsible for the largest contiguous air and ground space available for military operations in the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Teresa Sullivan)

Jesse Hotchkiss fires an M2-50 caliber machine gun with the help of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Hameed Ashanti and Staff Sgt. Alvernita Payne of the 99th Ground Combat Training Squadron Combat Arms. Seven area congressional staff delegates had the opportunity to tour the Nevada Test and Training Range’s ground combat training facility. They also received weapons familiarization training firing M2, Mk-19, M107, M2-40 rifles and grenades. The Nevada Test and Training Range is responsible for the largest contiguous air and ground space available for military operations in the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Teresa Sullivan/Released)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- The 99th Ground Combat Training Squadron prepares joint and combined combat forces for current and future threats. They do it by providing realistic training on the Nevada Test and Training Range.

The 99th GCTS uses the NTTR to train security forces defenders on Base Security Operations, Area Security Operations, military working dogs, heavy weapons, small arms, electronic security sensors and tactical vehicles, designated as Silver Flag Alpha training. Maj. Brian Filler, 99th Ground Combat Training Squadron commander said the combination of these skills ensures Airmen are ready to defend airbases in theater.

"Security Forces Airmen are better prepared for combat than they ever have been. This is largely due to the shared combat experience of the career field that is being taught at superb training venues like the NTTR," he said.

"There are endless training opportunities to work with Air Force, joint and combined forces in order to sharpen our combat skills," said Filler. "In the past year we've conducted exercises with Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technicians, Tactical Air Control Parties, Combat Search and Rescue Forces, Remotely Piloted Aircraft, Marine Corps Aviation Units and the British Royal Air Force Regiment."

Nearly every security forces unit involved in incidents in the area of responsibility has Silver Flag Alpha-trained Airmen. In 2010 and 2011 about 6,000 Airmen trained in the ground combat training exercise at the NTTR, which comes to nearly a third of all security forces Airmen deployed each year.

Chief Master Sergeant Jason France, 99th GCTS superintendent, said training on the NTTR translates into success on the battlefield.

"Recently we provided training to 200 defenders deploying to an emerging security mission at Afghanistan's Shindand Air Base. This was a short-notice requirement and forced us to conduct two separate Base Security Operations classes at the same time," explained France.

"The Defenders we trained provided a safe and secure environment that allowed Shindand Air Base to triple in size and allowed the U.S. Air Force to assist the Afghan government in standing up its undergraduate pilot training program," he said.

As the enemy's tactics evolve, so does the GCTS training, said Tech. Sergeant Jeffrey Meyer, 99th GCTS NCO-in-charge of Combat Arms.

"We put our trainees under pressure and time constraints in a current, realistic environment so they're prepared for combat. We have full distance target training and we incorporate evolving threat scenarios from the AOR (area of responsibility) into our training. When defenders leave us they're ready for current and future threats," said Meyer.

The Nevada Test and Training Range is responsible for the largest contiguous air and ground space available for military operations worldwide. With 1,200 targets, realistic threat systems and the support of an opposing enemy force that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world, the NTTR is home to America's most advanced aerial test and training environment, providing Airmen with a peacetime battlefield to hone their combat skills.

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