Defenders train for the worst

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Chad Warren
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
In the world of law enforcement, things can turn dangerous in the blink of an eye. Any traffic stop or routine response could turn into a physical altercation.

If and when that happens, the 52nd Security Forces Squadron Defenders must be ready to handle the situation and ensure the safety of their fellow Airmen.

The squadron held a combatives training course for its members at the Eifel Powerhaus Fitness Center on Spangdahlem May 26-29, 2015.

"When we are dealing with an individual, we don't know what they are capable of," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Erik Alter, 52nd SFS lead combatives instructor. "We have to be at least on the same level, if not above, what their knowledge is for physical hand-to-hand combat."

The skills to defend against a hostile suspect don't come automatically; they are gained through deliberate training and practice. Combative training serves as a crucial part of any military law enforcement officer's training program, and the skills taught during these sessions could save an officer or another Airman's life.

Alter, who had 10 years of traditional karate experience prior to instructing combatives, said the hands-on training gives Airmen the confidence and muscle memory to perform under pressure regardless of any size difference between them and their opponent.

Few jobs may be as dangerous on a daily basis as law enforcement. According to the FBI statistics for law enforcement, 51 officers were killed in the line of duty in 2014, an increase of 89 percent from the previous year. Knowing how to handle themselves against dangerous suspects is at the core of Spangdahlem's combatives training system.

"If we get in a situation where they are trying to gain control of us, they are also gaining control of a weapon, and that's very bad for us and for anyone they may want to harm," Alter said. "Security forces combatives is based around weapon retention, so no matter what move we are doing, we are always thinking how to retain that weapon."

The training represents an intensive and physically demanding session for a reason-the members train while tired so when they reach the point of exhaustion, they are still able to fall back on the techniques taught during the sessions.

In the uncertain world of law enforcement, the ability to take down a hostile suspect allows no room for error and can be the difference between making it home safely at the end of shift and not. The security forces combatives program ensures all defenders have the ability to protect and serve, make it home afterward and to continue their mission.