To shoot, or not to shoot

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Excessive use of force by law enforcement is a topic that has plagued U.S. headlines more than once in 2014. While the civilian police force is responsible for de-escalating a situation at the lowest level, the military is held to the same standard.Although tackling issues with no harm to others is the intent of all Air Force security forces members, they must train on numerous situations to know what level of force is appropriate to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Security forces members, also known across the Air Force as defenders, assigned to the 86th Security Forces Squadron, 435th Contingency Response Group, 569th U.S. Force Police Squadron and NATO, train for real-world scenarios to keep them at the top of their game. 

The use of force training keeps service members current on the conduct expected of them during an emergency situation. The daylong class comprises three parts, a classroom portion, written examination and a virtual test on the Firearms Training System.

“This training gave me a better understanding of scenarios we don’t encounter every day,” said Senior Airman Davin Horsley, an 86th SFS visitor control center journeyman. “It gives me more confidence in dealing with scenarios and a clearer picture of what it might be like in the moment.”

Although confrontations may not be as severe on the home front as they are on front lines, defenders must always be ready to diffuse a situation at any level.

“In the security forces world, bad things don’t happen every day,” said Staff Sgt. Karriem Abdul’ahad, an 86th Security Forces Squadron training instructor. “The FATS gives us the ability to stay on our game and practice what we need to do in the instance a situation arises.”

The Air Force-wide system allows law enforcement a virtual experience with the use of laser-pointed, air-compressed weapons on a training system similar to an interactive video game. Through a projector, the perpetrator confronts the “defender,” and based on the line of action, the instructor will control how the situation unfolds. 

“It is extremely beneficial for trainers to be able to change the scenario to teach students a sense of situational awareness,” Abdul’ahad said. “We can go over how each student handled the scenario and correct what they may have done wrong.”

Situations students are faced with can range from something as common as handcuffing a suspect to an extreme measure such as using lethal force.

Although completion of the course is an annual requirement to stay armed, Abdul’ahad uses it as an opportunity to encourage defenders to give their all while on the job. 

“As an instructor, teaching this course allows me to mold new Airmen and give them a positive and exciting first impression of their career,” Abdul’ahad said. “It allows me to help defenders better themselves.”

This lifelike experience tests Airmen not only on emergencies but also on marksmanship with mock pistols; however, this does not compensate for weapons training since the recoil is much less than that of a gun.

As well as training on proper procedure, the simulator can put defenders at ease by allowing them to have the time to react to each particular situation, Horsley said.

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