July 16, 2009:
Because so many U.S. Air Force security personnel are being sent to combat zones (to guard air force equipment and personnel, or to augment the army), there is a shortage of security personnel for existing air force base security duties. So, in some cases, the shortage is addressed by transferring airmen from non-security jobs to the security forces. These airmen are given a six day crash course on basic security procedures, and then put to work temporarily (for one or more months), under the supervision of experienced security force airmen.
The 24,000 professional air force security personnel are also trained to use infantry weapons and tactics, in addition to their police and security training. While it only takes six days to train the average airman in basic security procedures, an 18 day long Ground Combat Skills course (GCS) is provided for most airmen headed for Iraq, Afghanistan or South Korea. The training includes handling weapons, as well as a large variety of ground vehicles (including forklifts), in a combat situation. The last two days of the course are spent in the field, running through realistic situations, often using live ammunition. The most intense combat exercises use simunitions. These are low velocity, non metal bullets fired by (modified) standard weapons. The simunitions will sting (and leave a paint spot on your uniform) if they hit, and this adds another layer of realism to the exercise. Nearly all the instructors have already served in a combat zone, and the training is constantly updated with new information from the combat zone. The last 48 hours involves sleep deprivation, night operations, convoys and the kind of stress to be found in ground combat.
But for guarding base entrances and high security facilities, six days will do it, and that frees up the professional security personnel to do the heavy lifting in combat zones.