99th GCTS begins 45-day Joint Base Balad training course

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Larry E. Reid Jr.
  • Nellis Public Affairs
The 99th Security Forces Ground Combat Training Squadron recently kicked off the Joint Base Balad training, a newly designed 45-day course to provide advance ground combat weapons and tactics instruction for outside-the-wire missions and area security operations for active duty, guard, and Reserve security forces Airmen and chaplains. The training is for security forces and chaplains who embed and eventually take over Army operations at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

The training course is the first of its kind and the first time in 40 years that the Air Force has conducted an extensive training program to prepare Airmen to fight alongside sister services on the battlefield. Airmen who attend get more in-depth knowledge on unique missions and skill sets utilized by the Army in Iraq. Training on tactics and procedures will aid to the success of a joint environment.

"As a career field, this is the first doctrinal shift in 40 years since Operation Safe Side in Vietnam. This course was put together to get specialized training in base defense," said Senior Master Sgt. Lee Beausoleil, operations superintendent for the 99th GCTS.

Opening its doors in 1981 as a combat arms school and the only regional training center to train chaplains in the late 1980s, the 99th GCTS is Air Combat Command's premier regional training center for security forces Airmen and chaplains and the largest of seven Air Force wide, with locations at Eglin AFB, Fla., Andersen AFB, Guam, Fort Dix, N. J., Sembach AB, Germany, Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center, Wyo. and Camp Swift, Texas. 

"What makes us unique from other regional training centers is that we are the equivalent to a ground dimension of Red Flag," said Captain Garland Wilmoth, 99th GCTS commander. "We present friendly forces with adversarial challenges that students have to overcome. We provide similar and adversarial tactics to friendly forces, but our battle space is on the ground."

With the desert environment and mountain terrain, Creech AFB gives trainees a more realistic perspective on what to expect in the AOR.

"This training is close as you can get to being over in Iraq," said Master Sgt. David Ferguson, 99th GCTS logistics superintendent. "Between the heat and the cold of the desert, this environment gets you to live the training as it is over in the AOR."

The course will conduct majority of its training at Creech AFB and the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. Trainees will receive hands on training in hand-to-hand combat, convoy operations and go through a combat life savers course, a vital element for the AOR and a first of its kind in a training curriculum Air Force wide.

"We developed all of our lessons from the latest enemy training tactics and procedures," said Sergeant Beausoleil. "We are teaching lessons and topics that we have not taught before."

They are also pulling duties in Iraq that they have not done before, which makes the security forces career field more valuable to the joint fight than ever.

"We are no longer guards," said Senior Master Sgt. Lee Hays, Individual Mobilization Augmentee to the 99th GCTS operations superintendent. "We are in the position to do more, to bring knowledge to more security forces, to ensure that the United States Air Force will control larger portions of ground and air space."