Combat readiness training prepares Airmen

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- EDITOR'S NOTE: Airman Nuckolls participated in the 606th Air Control Squadron's combat readiness training exercise here April 13-18. The weeklong exercise simulated a deployment with both instructors judging their every move and volunteers serving as opposition forces to test their effectiveness.  The following is his story as the unit's public affairs representative.

I don't believe you can fully prepare yourself for combat.

With that said, when I found out I would be joining 606th Air Control Squadron Airmen in combat readiness training, I was excited.

It has been more than a year since I had an M-16 in my hands. I was nervous at first to even hold it--let alone to use it--not only to protect myself, but also my wingmen.

Throughout the training, if you made a mistake, it didn't just affect you - it affected the entire class.

When someone in the class made a mistake, like shoot an unarmed person, it negatively changed how those portraying the locals viewed us being there which made our hosts more hostile. When we completed a scenario correctly, the locals gave us information that would help us.

I believe this made the training seem so real. Each scenario affected the next scenario.

The first day was an all-day classroom training, going over things like what to expect on a deployment, law of armed conflict rules, proper searching procedures and the intelligence brief on the mission.

The training scenario put us in Africa with a mission to build a bare base and defend it until more troops arrived.

The next morning we arrived at an empty field only having a couple of hours to set up tents, defensive fighting positions and concertina-wire before we had locals come by and see what we were up to. We spoke to the locals and let them know what we were doing in their country.

During the five days and four nights spent out in the training, we had to rely on each other and the training we had been taught to survive and stay alive.

We learned how to perform self-aid and buddy care and how to move any injured to safety while under fire.

We had opportunities to meet the local leaders, and even had a scenario where international media came to interview some of the Airmen.

Some of the scenarios challenged our rules of engagement knowledge, for example, knowing when to just yell, when to use some force and when to use deadly force.

We took several rounds of mortar fire, simulated by ground burst simulators. That noise and everyone yelling "Incoming!" made you hit the ground fast. It shook you, and the sound made it seem so real.

Coming under fire wasn't the only tactic that was thrown at us throughout the week.

The opposition force would play the same song for hours over a speaker system in some sort of psychological warfare.

Though the challenges we faced were tough and sometimes didn't always turn out the way we wanted, the class was always ready for the next scenario. We even got praise from the instructors for being one of the best classes they have seen come through the training.

I said that I didn't believe you can fully prepare yourself for combat.

Though I still believe that, I do believe you can be as prepared as possible. CRT is just one thing that the 606th ACS does to make sure their Airmen are always ready for worldwide deployments