Luke combatives training underway
By 2nd Lt. Ryan DeCamp, 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 09, 2010
LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Grass stained Airman Battle Uniform trousers and blouses darkened with sweat are standard attire. Football helmets, pugil sticks and pads almost three feet tall by six inches deep designed to absorb punches and kicks are tools of the trade. And they are lucky, it is only 75 degrees outside.
Twelve Airmen from differing career fields began a three week course April 1 learning combatives with Marine Corps instructors on Luke Air Force Base. The training is designed to teach Airmen skills used in combat, for self defense and work on physical training.
"So far it's going great and they're learning a lot of stuff they never knew existed," said Pernell Stoney, 56th Force Support Squadron Fitness Center director. "It's some really good training in that it builds up stamina and teaches the basic hand-to-hand movements. Many of the movements can also be used with a rifle in the event they're in a war zone and run out of bullets."
Some of the training includes learning hand-to-hand combat skills, pugil stick fighting and rifle maneuvers, all of which can be used in combat among other places. The trainees also run to and from each event in ABUs, helmets and body armor while carrying some of the equipment that will be used in other events.
"We're definitely getting our butts kicked, and I think everyday gets a little harder, but we just get used to it," said Airman 1st Class Eric Gentry, 56th Component Maintenance Squadron avionics apprentice. "Single events alone don't break you down but when you do them one after another at a fast pace it becomes really hard."
Each day starts at 6 a.m., ends at about 11:30 a.m. and is scheduled to conclude April 23. The trainees wrapped up testing for their tan-belts Thursday and will earn a green-belt by the time they finish the course. The intent is that Airmen learning from the Marines stationed at Luke will then teach these techniques in their units beginning in May.
Airmen Gentry joined the Air Force less than two years ago and said another benefit of the course is the leadership experience he has gained.
"We were all standing there at the end of the first day and the instructor looks around, points at me and says, 'You're the class leader'," Airman Gentry said. "I have a feeling it's because I was the lowest ranking. This is a very new experience leadership wise, because it's demanding mentally and physically."
Mr. Stoney said the goal of the program is to train Airmen on base so they can teach Airmen from their units what they learned. He plans on having another formal training session like this one in the near future.
"The training brings the whole warrior concept into full focus," Airman Gentry said. "I wish more of the Air Force could do this. It brings people together. We've been together for three days and I feel closer to some of these guys than I do with even some in my shop. Physical activity brings people together and I think that really helps with the whole concept of being Airmen, or Marines in their case.