Chievres Air Base, Belgium --
Security Forces knows how to roll with the punches and the 165th Security Forces Squadron is no exception both figuratively and literally.
Our SFS recently completed their annual training - most of which was supposed to be happening at Chievres Air Base, Belgium, a NATO installation. “The initial intent was to go overseas and train with our NATO partners and joint partners,” said Maj. Michelle Sabala, commander of the 165th Security Forces Squadron.
The training plan consisted of daily combatives, rappelling, room clearing, tactical combat casualty care and also integrated Airmen from the Medical Group, Air Support Operations Squadron and the Chaplains office . However, Murphy’s Law came into play, and what could go wrong, did go wrong.
“We got a bit of a punch in the mouth,” said Sabala. “Everything we planned - we now had to improvise.”
The initial flight for the training efforts had been cancelled with no alternate transportation in sight - the Squadron had to jump through hoops to make the best of the designated training days.
“We didn’t know how long we were going to be stranded,” said Sabala. “Immediately, the instructors adjusted the training plan and securing training facilities - which isn’t always easy.”
The squadron trained for longer days in combatives, rappelling, land navigation and TCCC to make up for the time they would lose from additional travel.
Within a few days of training, another flying unit accepted the flight and transported the squadron abroad to finish their training. But Murphy’s Law wasn’t finished yet - and as a result the aircrew had to divert to Royal Air Force Mildenhall, in the United Kingdom.
“As a commander, I cannot do anything without my team,” said Sabala. “We’ve got a rock solid Chief and a great team of people.”
“Anytime anything goes wrong, I pull in my team and advisors so nothing is missed,” said Sabala. “Together, we broke down everything that needed to be done. The First Sergeants took care of the food, lodging, and transportation and the Chief and I worked with our trainers to plan what the next few days would look like.”
Within a few hours, they had yet again secured, new training facilities and lodging with an adjusted training plan.
There SFS Airmen trained in shoot, move, communicate training in conjunction with training U.S. Air Force members stationed in the U.K.
“The training in Mildenhall was really neat because we got to train in facilities that we don’t have at home station,” said Senior Airman Marcus Faison, who was on his first temporary duty assignment. “There we focused on shoot, move, communicate. And, my fireteam leader, Tech. Sgt. White, made sure everyone had a chance to lead in the various scenarios.”
Eventually, the unit made it to its final destination, Chievres Air Base. By this time, the squadron was ready to apply everything they had learned in a field training exercise.
The defenders and medical personnel had to complete an objective which involved completing an end objective which had to be done through engaging simulated enemy forces and care under fire.
“They train hard - It’s a fast paced environment so you have to catch on quickly,” said Senior Airman Krista Grady, an aerospace medical technician at the 165th Airlift Wing. “This training was something a lot of us don’t get to experience and to be able to apply our job in a simulated combat environment was a game changer.”
“These skills are perishable and training is the most important thing we can do.” said Sabala. “Training sets the foundation for how we conduct real-world operations.”
“Everyone did a great job of rolling with the punches to make sure that our objectives were met,” said Sabala. “I cannot emphasize enough just how great this team is and how hard they work to make everyday happen.”
“If nothing else, hopefully the senior leadership learned a lot about planning and what to do when things go wrong, because more than likely things will go wrong,” said Sabala.
It's commonly said that flexibility is the key to Air Power, with that in mind, it's no wonder the 165th SFS took home the Outstanding Security Forces Squadron for the Air National Guard and for the Air Force - Reserve Component.