LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas—The 47th Security Forces Squadron held tryouts Sept. 25, 2019, at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, to determine which of their Airmen are selected to attend the San Antonio Basic Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) course.
Tryouts consisted of a physical fitness test, a rigorous workout, a timed ruck march in full gear, and finished off with a Combat Arms Training and Maintenance marksmanship challenge.
Senior Master Sgt. Dwight Valeros, 47th Security Forces Squadron manager, directed the tryouts which will determine who could be selected for the course. Valeros made the tryouts open-test style and included military thought processes and life lessons into the evaluation.
Valeros relayed he didn’t intend for the competition to simply confirm who was the most fit or the best marksman but for “iron to sharpen iron.” When they all begin succeeding as a team, the trail will be blazed for the rest of the squadron and wing to follow in their footsteps.
“I want to give our military and civilian defenders an opportunity to grow and experience some different things in their military career,” Valeros said. “It creates a competitive environment, but it’s not about setting them against one another. It’s about learning from mistakes and learning more about military operational planning.”
Staff Sgt. Anthony Delarosa, 47th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, seized the opportunity to try out for SWAT school and hopes to gain any and all chances to grow in tactical experience.
“Like Senior Master Sgt. Valeros said, ‘iron sharpens iron,’ when you see someone doing better than you, you want to strive to be like them, become as good as them and surpass them,” Delarosa said.
Delarosa went on to discuss the demands of the job and how attending SWAT school will potentially better them individually and the squadron as a whole.
“I think it’s good that training like this is going to become a norm, especially for our career field. Everything is unknown. Responding to a domestic violence could turn into handling a hostage barricade or someone could pull a gun on you at a regular traffic stop for speeding. This course can teach a lot of tactical movement and teamwork. That’s what this whole career field is based on. You’re never just facing one cop, you’re facing a squadron.”
Valeros shared the real goal is to make all Airmen competent and ready for any contingency operation.
“Sending a few candidates to SWAT training is preparing us for lethality and keeping us prepared to deal with our near-peer adversaries,” Valeros said. “These are small but important milestones to get us there. The SWAT training will make our Airmen proficient and highly competent at small-team tactics, marksmanship fundamentals as well as close-quarters battle. Eventually, this knowledge will become commonplace for all security forces Airmen.”
At the end of the day, the selection process was to guarantee the squadron sent its best forward. It was not focused on highlighting winners and losers but focused instead on wanting to strive for growth and creating a competitive climate to push troops to bring their best version of themselves.
For Senior Airman Dylan Gaines, 47th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, the most helpful part of the SWAT tryout was the wingmen going through the trials right next to him. His drive to do more was reinforced by the sense of teamwork they developed over defeating the test.
“I have a high drive for being part of things like SWAT or going to Ranger school,” Gaines said. “I always want to do more, and I never want to plateau. That’s why I want to go to SWAT training. Teamwork was definitely the biggest takeaway from trying out for SWAT, and I think I’d learn even more about teamwork if I am selected for the training.”
Valeros boasted the defenders who signed up for SAWT tryouts didn’t have to be there.
“For them to come out and push through shows a lot of grit and will, and that’s what we want to see,” Valeros said.
The selection process is to continue based on the outcome of the initial tryouts.