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Grappling, pummeling, trapping: 162nd Airmen learn to 'close with the enemy'

It’s just business….nothing personal. Airman 1st Class Anna Solis applies a free-style stranglehold on Senior Airman Jessica Switzer on March 21 at the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site gym in Marana, Ariz. The two security forces specialists were part of an intense 5-day, Army National Guard-instructed training event titled Basic Combative Course. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski/Released)

It’s just business….nothing personal. Airman 1st Class Anna Solis applies a free-style stranglehold on Senior Airman Jessica Switzer on March 21 at the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site gym in Marana, Ariz. The two security forces specialists were part of an intense 5-day, Army National Guard-instructed training event titled Basic Combative Course. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski/Released)

Army instructor Sgt. Major Mark Ruffe observes  Airman 1st Class Stephen Anderson (bottom) forcing Airman 1st Class Jordan Apalategui (top) into a “guard position,” thereby giving Anderson dominancy in the fight. The two security forces specialists were part of an intense 5-day, Army National Guard-instructed training event titled Basic Combative Course at the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site gym in Marana, Ariz., March 17-21.

Army instructor Sgt. Major Mark Ruffe observes Airman 1st Class Stephen Anderson (bottom) forcing Airman 1st Class Jordan Apalategui (top) into a “guard position,” thereby giving Anderson dominancy in the fight. The two security forces specialists were part of an intense 5-day, Army National Guard-instructed training event titled Basic Combative Course at the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site gym in Marana, Ariz., March 17-21.

There will be blood. Airman Joshua Camacho takes down an opponent – and gets a little messy in the process – during the Basic Combative Course training at the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site gym in Marana, Ariz., March 21. The security forces specialist was a part of an intense 5-day, Army National Guard-instructed event involving unarmed, combative training.

There will be blood. Airman Joshua Camacho takes down an opponent – and gets a little messy in the process – during the Basic Combative Course training at the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site gym in Marana, Ariz., March 21. The security forces specialist was a part of an intense 5-day, Army National Guard-instructed event involving unarmed, combative training.

Offering thanks for his tutelage, 162nd Wing Vice Commander Lt. Col. Kenneth Rosson shakes the hand of Army National Guard instructor Sgt. Major Mark Ruffe at the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site gym in Marana, Ariz., March  21. "We want the Security Forces to continue the training opportunities like this with the Army,” said Rosson. “I think they might have even had a bit of fun, but this fantastic training with the Army amplified the fighting Airman spirit needed for operations down-range and here in the homeland."

Offering thanks for his tutelage, 162nd Wing Vice Commander Lt. Col. Kenneth Rosson shakes the hand of Army National Guard instructor Sgt. Major Mark Ruffe at the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site gym in Marana, Ariz., March 21. "We want the Security Forces to continue the training opportunities like this with the Army,” said Rosson. “I think they might have even had a bit of fun, but this fantastic training with the Army amplified the fighting Airman spirit needed for operations down-range and here in the homeland."

MARANA, Ariz. -- The words on the gym wall summed it up best for 13 security forces specialists who trained at the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site here March 17-21.

   

"The defining characteristic of a warrior is the willingness to close with the enemy."

 

Through the Basic Combative Course taught by Arizona's Citizen-Soldiers, the men and women who protect the 162nd Wing's jets, facilities, equipment and its greatest asset - the Airman - learned the essentials of unarmed combat: close the distance, gain the dominant position and finish the fight.

 

"Our security forces are well-trained in combat arms, but to see them operate in full-contact, close-quarter scenarios, only makes them more mission capable," said 162nd  Wing Vice Commander Lt. Col. Kenneth Rosson, who was able to witness the training, describing it as "a great example of the joint-service mentality we have here in Arizona."   

 

In what an outside observer could mistake for a Ultimate Fighting Championship or Mixed Martial Arts event, the intense period of instruction covered submission holds, rear naked and cross collar choke holds, escape methods, front and rear mount positions - any kind of technique that neutralizes a threat without weaponry.

 

For Airman 1st Class Jordan Apalategui, successfully negotiating the course was an exercise in stamina of the body and mind.

 

"It was brutal, getting owned in wrestling and getting punched - it took its toll," said Apalategui. "It was mentally and physically draining."

 

With M-4 Carbine Rifles, M-9 Berretas, pepper sprays and soon-to-be Taser Guns at their disposal, security forces personnel are well-armed to meet any kind of immediate danger with defensive actions.

 

But according to Chief Master Sgt. Mark Milbourn, security forces manager, the training was useful in the event a security forces specialist does not have the luxury of a "reactionary gap," a term used to describe the time it takes to asses a situation and subsequently use a weapon.

 

"If we don't have that separation of contact, this training gives Airmen the confidence that if they go hand-to-hand with somebody, they can put them into some kind of submission to where that person is going to give up very quickly," Milbourn said.

 

With an extensive background in Taekwondo, Army Sgt. Maj. Mark Ruffe, an operations sergeant major at the Arizona National Guard Joint-Forces Headquarters in Phoenix, served as one of the instructors.

 

"They (security forces) were impressive - every one of them, and they showed a lot of heart," he said.

 

Ruffe added that 162nd Wing Security Forces personnel have joined the likes of Navy SEAL[s], Drug Enforcement Administration agents and personal bodyguards of government officials in receiving this type of unarmed, combat instruction.

 

"I took away from this training a new sense of confidence, skills and knowledge about myself and how much I can actually take and push myself to survive any type of hostile situation," said Senior Airman Jessica Switzer, security forces specialist. "I love my firearms, but hand-to-hand combat is always going to be a vital role in defending myself."