FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. -- Nearly 60 Guardsmen from the 111th Attack Wing's security forces squadron participated in a "Super Drill"--a four-day team building and skills training event, April 9 – 12, at the state's joint-force training center here and Gettysburg National Military Park. While they've participated in similar exercises in the past, this occasion marks the first time such group training was held in state.
"Normally, we conduct this sort of training outside of Pennsylvania. For example, we travel out west for desert warfare training or we utilize (Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst)," said Senior Master Sgt. Jeffery Maund, 111th SFS operations superintendent, a unit veteran of 25 years. "But in training here, we're using in-state resources. It's beneficial for both our members and the state itself. There are many assets at Fort Indiantown Gap that we haven't employed in the past and are learning to use now; I believe we'll continue to do so in the future."
The exercise spanned a variety of combat-readiness scenarios, from convoy campaigns to night-vision operations. Each event not only served to employ real-world readiness, it also functioned to instill and strengthen esprit de corps within the squadron.
"This event allows us to come out here and practice our craft," said Commander of the 111th SFS, Lt. Col. Christine Munch. "During normal drills, our members are doing (computer-based training), going to medical appointments and accomplishing those types of requirements, but it's very difficult to practice squad integrity. Squad integrity is very important to us—that's how we move. When we deploy beyond the walls of a (forward operating base) we function as a squad; practicing that in every environment enforces that model."
Master Sgt. Kenneth Gabor, 111th SFS unit training manager described the event as a miniature deployment training, instilling critical experience for less-seasoned security forces Airmen.
"I think our new troops are really enjoying being able to get out and actually do the things they have been taught to do," said Gabor. "In the past year or so, we've gotten a lot of new Airmen [in the 111th SFS] and this has been a great experience for them by bringing the squads together, bringing that teamwork together."
Munch continued by describing highlights she witnessed during the training.
"An airman first class realized (during the obstacle course event) that there was someone left behind, stopped what he was doing and made sure that the last person in his squad got through -- he set the bar," she said. "He understood what today was about."
While comradery served as the theme throughout the training drill, the Guardsmen also were eager to apply theory to the hands-on tasks.
"We've learned the book work, and now it's nice to be able to apply it in the real world," said Senior Airman Chelsea Rainier, 111th SFS. "I feel we are getting more involved training than we normally would since we have more space here. Also, usually during drill the time for squad training is limited, whereas here we really can work on team building."
The goals of the super drill were: weapons qualifications; vehicle training; virtual convoy training; night operations; Taser and baton training; and living in deployed conditions.
In the end, aside from the training, solidarity was what their time at "The Gap" was all about.
"We've seen the group come together a lot more since we began our training here," said Gabor. "In just this four-day event away from the base, there's been an increase in group integrity. As a leader, that's one of the greatest experiences."