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ASBC students learn war fighting skills

  • Published
  • By Carl Bergquist
  • Air University Public Affairs
Learning the skills necessary to operate in an expeditionary environment is now part of the curriculum for new Air Force lieutenants attending Air and Space Basic Course at Maxwell, said Capt. James Ware, ASBC Retool Office.

"A catch phrase would be, 'gaining the mindset of warrior ethos,' and that is what the students learn from their ASBC training and the Vigilant Warrior program," he said. "The first week of the course students 'deploy' to Maxwell's Blue Thunder, go through a deployment line and live at Blue Thunder for five days. Week six brings a trip to the Vigilant Warrior compound 30 miles from Maxwell-Gunter near Lake Jordan where they exercise what they've learned during the previous five weeks."

The captain said during the Blue Thunder segment training is the objective, and students are instructed in field health, deployment processes, M-4 rifles, integrated base defense, land navigation, small unit tactics, self-aid and buddy care and troop leading procedures. He said Vigilant Warrior, however, is centered more on evaluation, demonstrating what they learned.

Capt. Eric McGreevy, ASBC Retool Office, wrote the curriculum for the troop leading segment. He said troop leading is an example of the type of training students will receive from the retool of ASBC which was instituted in December 2006.

"Troop leading procedures are taught by an ASBC flight commander and emphasizes a war fighting mentality," he said. "It is a movement-oriented, problem solving exercise that teaches students how to get troops from point a to point b in the safest and most efficient way possible."

Captain McGreevy said each module of the first week's training not only improves the new lieutenants' understanding of expeditionary service, but also prepares them for Vigilant Warrior.

During testimony to the House Armed Services Committee July 16, Col. Stephen Tanous, Squadron Officer College commandant, told committee members the retool of ASBC, which incorporates more expeditionary training, is an asset to commanders Air Force-wide.

"The retool effort is in its final stages and has already produced graduates who are arriving at their first assignment more deployment-ready, motivated and empowered with the skills and knowledge to support their commanders both at home and abroad," he said. "The Air Force goal is 100 percent attendance of its line-of-the-Air-Force officers. Between 3,200 and 3,600 Air Force active-duty, Reserve and National Guard officers attend the school each year."

Colonel Tanous said ASBC is a six-week resident program conducted 10 times each year. Two weeks of the program provide hands-on instruction by specially qualified enlisted members and officers. He said to graduate, ASBC students must demonstrate what they learned by successfully completing a series of operational exercises.

Captain Ware said students arriving at the Vigilant Warrior compound on the first day are issued "simulated M-4 marker sets," or highly realistic paintball weapons, and are marched to a base camp where they receive rules of engagement. At the base camp, they are broken into two squadrons. The second day involves the assault course and expeditionary challenges, such as land navigation, small unit tactics and integrated base defense scenarios.

"Once the retool is complete, we will have a capstone event on a third day of Vigilant Warrior," he said. "It will involve a squadron-on-squadron integrated base defense scenario that tests the students' skills and integrates self-aid and buddy care throughout."

Air and Space Basic Course was launched in 1998 and conceived by the then Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Ronald Fogleman. The course is mandatory for all newly commissioned second lieutenants and was created to teach new officers about the Air Force "family business" as codified in the service's basic doctrine. Beginning in March 2009, ASBC began equipping its students with basic expeditionary skills, which fundamentally enhance the leadership qualities of the Air Force's junior officer corps.