Genesis trains defenders despite challenges

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Tara R. Abrahams
  • 940th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The 940th Security Forces Squadron created Genesis, a training program for new defenders, and executed it twice in 2020, despite the challenges presented globally and here at Beale Air Force Base, California.

In January 2019, the Air Force made changes to the training for defenders including the elimination of their Career Development Courses (CDCs) while redesigning an eLearning course. However, incoming defenders still needed training in the meantime to perform in their positions effectively.

The 940 SFS also struggled to find time to incorporate training during Unit Training Assembly weekends. Traditional reservists typically work 38 days per year: one weekend per month (UTA) and annual tour, which is about two weeks per year. Their time is limited.

“We had to figure out a way to get our Airmen from 3-level to 5-level,” said Staff Sgt. Scott Rounds, 940 SFS defender and Genesis instructor.

The squadron came up with a plan to conduct training during annual tour, using volunteer instructors and hands-on practice. Even with COVID-19 restrictions and California fires, they successfully trained 19 defenders through Genesis.

Master Sgt. Ryan Keep, 940 SFS defender, said the program allowed defenders returning from technical school to complete 70 percent of their required core and wartime tasks in a matter of 15 working days. He said they would not be able to complete the training effectively on UTA.

Some of the tasks included shoot, move, communicate; active shooter; combative; control; and patrol.

Keep described Beale as being a “uniquely qualified” location for Genesis. There are multiple training areas including a full-distance weapon range, areas to patrol and the tape-house (a setup used to practice room clearing procedure using cones, caution tape and see-through rooms for training purposes).

Prior to Genesis, defenders were taught using computer-based trainings (CBTs) and CDCs, which are text-based courses with a multiple choice test at the end of the course. They were required to perform the tasks they learned and have supervisors sign them off, stating they were performed to a satisfactory standard.

Several Reserve Citizen Airmen found this method difficult without applying the skills directly.

Senior Airman Daniel Bolster, a 940 SFS defender and Genesis instructor, used the CDCs as his training tool six years ago. He wished he had Genesis when he joined the unit.

“I was lost 100 percent of the time with CDCs,” he said. “On my first annual tour in Alaska, I didn’t know anything. If I had Genesis when I went through, I would have known everything [the students] knew. They’re so far ahead of me now and they just got here.”

The students were grateful for the squadron’s new training method.

“We cannot learn these tasks from CBTs,” said Senior Airman Phillip Rader, a 940 SFS defender and Genesis graduate. “A lot of it needs to be hands-on.”

Rader has attended a handful of civilian law enforcement trainings, but said none compared to this one.

“The quality was absolutely outstanding.”

He and his fellow students agreed that the instructors were what made the course successful. They made sure students understood how each task needed to be done, why it is performed in that way and allowed for repetition with practice. The instructors worked as a team to minimize downtime and make the training as effective as possible.

In addition, students and instructors commented on having an increase in confidence, trust in their teammates and a desire to stay in their position that they did not have before. Many students expressed interest in instructing future classes.

The squadron plans to offer the training again in 2021. They would like to hold one or two classes per year and share them with other reserve units in hopes of preparing the defenders to do their job anywhere.

“The Air Force and Security Forces have to be careful that we don’t see good training as check the box, Rounds said. “Good training is getting people prepared to go out into the world and do hard things that need to be done. If we are in this ‘check the box’ world, we do a disservice to the people we send downrange and people we’re protecting. We can’t lose sight of why we’re here; it’s to protect things and to maybe have to make the ultimate sacrifice or final decision for somebody. We have got to have our defenders trained to do those things.”