7/26/2013 – FORT WOLTERS, Texas — Airmen from the 419th Security Forces Squadron spent two weeks here as part of Patriot Defender, a sustainment training course for security forces reservists.
“Patriot Defender is basically to keep us prepared in case we have to go to war,” said Tech. Sgt. Nathan Yeaman, security forces craftsman in the 419th SFS. “After this training, I have more confidence in myself to lead a squad if I had to.”
The wing sent 14 Airmen to Patriot Defender to train alongside reservists from units across the country. More than 60 reservists in all practiced firing weapons, patrol techniques and counter-IED tactics critical to security forces.
“It’s great hands-on experience and training,” said Staff Sgt. Nick Bricker, 419th SFS fire team leader.
Bricker is new to the Air Force. He spent seven years in the Navy Reserve as military police and also works for Utah Highway Patrol. Bricker said one of Fort Wolters’ biggest assets for security forces is its massive 300-meter firing range.
“The farthest we’ve shot in our indoor range at Hill Air Force Base is 25 feet,” Bricker said. “Here, we’re engaging targets 25 meters to 300 meters and everywhere in between.”
“The range here brings a more realistic feeling to the training,” Yeaman added. “With this range, we shot at pop-up targets, so the targets actually fall when you make contact. That way you know, for sure, your shots are good.”
Yeaman said he was at Fort Wolters seven years ago to prepare for his deployment to Iraq.
“Everything I’ve been learning is different from seven years ago,” Yeaman said. “We have to keep adapting to our enemy, and this Patriot Defender has changed from the last time around. We have to keep staying ahead of the enemy.”
The reservists also had to adapt to local training conditions: Texas heat and humidity.
“You’re wet the second you put your clothes on,” Bricker said. “The humidity is killer.”
“Take a shower and then go to work,” said Master Sgt. Ron Beard, training NCOIC in the 419th SFS. “That’s what it’s like out here.”
More than 1,200 security forces reservists train at Fort Wolters annually. Security forces reservists typically go through the Patriot Defender course every three years.
by Tech. Sgt. Richard Gonzales
419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs