Nineteen members of the Nebraska Air National Guard’s 155th Maintenance Group took part in annual weapons qualification training Feb. 3, 2018 at the Nebraska Army National Guard’s Greenlief Training Center, near Hastings, Nebraska.
Airmen with the 155th Air Refueling Wing in Lincoln, Nebraska, must qualify on the M4 carbine every year in order to stay proficient and be prepared for any situation they might encounter at home or abroad.
“Being part of the maintenance squadron, we travel with aircraft, since wherever the aircraft needs to go, is where the people go,” said Master Sgt. Lyle Stara, first sergeant for the 155th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “All the mechanics, all the hydraulics, all the (electrical and environmental) people have to be able to support the mission wherever the airplane and wherever the aircrew is and that can take us into any area, any hostile area. It could take us any place in the world where the airplane needs to go.”
The training began with a class on the basics of a the rifle. In that class they learned about safety features of the M4, what ammunition is compatible with it, how to take the rifle apart and put it back together, and how to clean it. They also learned about marksmanship fundamentals, and how to clear the weapon before and after using it.
Following classroom training, the Airmen moved to the range to apply what they had learned earlier. Eight members of the 155th Security Forces Squadron monitored the training, giving instruction on what they needed to adjust or fix in order to qualify with their weapon.
The value of the training was not lost on those being trained.
“I think it puts us at a position where there’s one less thing for us to worry about because we can be confident that if the case were to come to a point where we needed to defend (the aircraft)… we have the ability to do so and just protect that mission as a whole,” said Senior Airman Timothy Aulner, an aircraft electrical and environmental systems technician with the 155th MXG. “That can apply to anywhere in the U.S. or overseas as well.”
Training like this annually allows these Airmen to build muscle memory that they can fall back on if necessary.
“You can only do so much training,” said Potter. “But when a situation arises, you’re going to go back to your instincts and having this training basically built into you, constantly doing it year after year, it makes you a lot more confident that you’re going to be able to do your job effectively.”
Once trained, these Airmen can help security forces maintain a safety and security.
“The main importance of why we have to train everyone else is if we don’t have enough manning, we call on other squadrons to come on as augmentees and if they’re posted with a security forces member they will be armed up in that case,” said Staff Sgt. Brent Potter, a Combat Arms Training Maintenance (CATM) firearms instructor with the 155th SFS. “If the situation arises, they have to be qualified to use the M4. Say someone tries to take over an aircraft and the security forces member or someone of security can’t get there fast enough, there’s a trained and qualified individual that is with that asset to protect it and make sure it doesn’t get taken or damaged.”
Airmen must remain ready to deploy by consistently training in every area required in not only their own career field but in the skills every Airmen should have as a warrior Airmen.
“I think it’s pretty important that we are all trained, we’re ready, we’re willing to do whatever it takes to support the mission,” said Stara. “To support whatever we need to, to make sure that we’re ready and willing and able not knowing what could possibly be thrown in our direction.”