Story by A1C Erin McClellan on 12/13/2017MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. Six 22nd Security Forces Airmen traveled to Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, Nov. 27 to Dec. 1 to receive heavy-weapons training required for a deployment and save Air Force money through innovative processes.
"We have a team going to a centralized location overseas, and their training requires them to be certified in heavy weapons," said Master Sgt. Matthew Treadwell, 22nd SFS operations noncommissioned officer in charge. "In that certification, we're talking about the M249 squad automatic weapon, M240B medium machine gun, as well as the .50-caliber M2 machine gun, what we call Ma Deuce.' We have all of those at this base except the M2."
Normally, to receive this training, Airmen would have to travel to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, for approximately ten days. Since Treadwell was previously the combat arms NCO in charge at Altus AFB, he knew it was possible to receive the training there instead. This saved the Air Force money by shortening the trip duration and decreasing travel distance.
The M2 is the oldest weapon system used by the United States military today, which is one of the reasons it takes at least four days to learn the mechanics of the weapon and be qualified on it, said Treadwell. A large portion of the training is done in a classroom, not on the range.
"It takes time," he explained. "They have to learn timing and headspace on it, which is extremely meticulous, because if you mess that up, the gun will blow up on you. That's why it takes so long, because you have to drill [the students]. They have what we call a task performance checklists, and if they don't meet those requirements, they don't fire the weapon."
Airman 1st Class Benjamin Kaupp, 22nd SFS installation entry controller, was one of the Airmen who attended the training. This upcoming deployment will be his first.
"The instructors we had were great," said Kaupp. "Being tasked with the M2 is a great responsibility if you're approached with a hostile threat, and I feel privileged to have gone through the training and to know that if stuff actually does go down, we're ready for it."
Maintaining Airmen's deployment readiness is crucial to the Air Force's global mission, and training is vital to that readiness.