Shots Fired! CATM trains Defenders for deployments

by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sutton
Kadena Air Base

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan  --  Wearing flack vests and helmets, adrenaline pulsing through their bodies, security forces Airmen concentrated on one thing: firing multiple rounds directly into the target as quickly and accurately as possible.

One day their life, or the life of a fellow Airman, may depend on these warfighting reflexes.

"Our main responsibility is to safely qualify members in combat marksmanship," said Tech. Sgt. Thomas Wilson, 18th Security Forces Squadron NCO in charge of combat arms training and maintenance. "We train a variety of members because CATM is required when Airmen deploy, move within a 90-day window, or have line of duty requirements."

Wilson explained that most students fire on a yearly basis which, depending on the weapon system, can require very extensive training.

"Many members, and especially Defenders, need to prepare for real-world deployments across the globe," said Wilson. "These mission-specific requirements while challenging, are essential to continuous combat effectiveness."

Team Kadena also has an additional opportunity of working closely with local Japanese security guards in order to defend and execute base operations.

"We also have many local guards who we train with here on Okinawa," said Wilson. "It's important for us to have that culture of respect and seamless cooperation with our fellow civilian guards."

Proper cooperation and training on the multiple weapons systems ensures Airmen are continually ready and qualified to complete missions daily.

"Teaching and showing students the correct way to use their weapons and then watch as they succeed out on the firing line is my favorite part of being an instructor," said Staff Sgt. John Parsons, 18th SFS CATM instructor. "For me, patience is vital. Many students do not have realistic training of firing these weapons every day, so it's important to take it slow at first and ensure effectiveness in weapons handling."

Parsons continued by explaining that this more than just a job to him and his fellow instructors -it's a calling.

"We are practitioners of the Profession of Arms and take that responsibility seriously," he said. "As CATM instructors, we strive to train members as experts in using lethal force if necessary. As warfighters, this is a responsibility we take extremely seriously."

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