Sat October 10, 2020
(Credit – Robert Goetz, 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs)
Thirty security forces Airmen from across Joint Base San Antonio learned numerous force response techniques ranging from weapon handling to clearing buildings in search of adversaries during a weeklong course June 5-9.
Facilitated by instructors from Controlled FORCE Inc., a company that provides military, law enforcement and security training at the federal, state and local level, the FORCE operator course, like CFI’s many other courses, is designed to increase safety by helping students become more adept at close-range subject control.
The course is based on the company’s MACH – Mechanical Advantage Control Hold – System, said Kevin Rittenhouse, Controlled FORCE director of law enforcement operations. FORCE stands for First Official Response to a Critical Environment.
Everything we teach them can be used in their everyday missions,” he said. “We make sure the Airmen are good with their hands first, then put a weapon in their hands and teach them how to manipulate their weapon. Overall, we teach them how to work together so they develop teamwork.”
One of the principles CFI instructors stress is “letting go of failures. Everything in life is designed to fail, so we focus on transitions,” said Rittenhouse, a retired North Carolina state trooper. “Airmen have to know how to change the dynamic and let go of a failure. If a subject continually resists, the officer has to reach another level of force or disengage. In this course, we teach them how to transition through constant movement.”
Randolph High School was the site of the first two days of the course, which focused on takedown techniques and tactics with Airmen pitted against each other.
One Airman learned she could handle a much bigger adversary using the right techniques.
“That went very well,” said Airman 1st Class Jocelyn Kendrick, 902nd Security Forces Squadron entry controller. “I was able to take on my fear of going up against a guy much bigger than myself.”
The emphasis of the course’s third day was weapon firing and handling at JBSA-Medina Annex’ range delta. Airmen fired M-4 and M-9 rounds and learned how to change magazines in less than five seconds, a skill that takes practice, many of them learned.
“Most of the Airmen were sluggish with it at first,” said Airman Collin DeLattre, 902nd SFS entry controller. “I can do it in under five seconds now. That’s really key in a life-or-death situation.”
The Airmen returned to Randolph High School on the fourth day for instruction on clearing hallways, rooms and buildings in active shooter situations. One of the more difficult techniques was transferring a weapon from the student’s dominant side to the support side to avoid gunfire.
“In the beginning, I thought there was no way I could do that, but I was able to get the hang of it,” Kendrick said.
The clearing exercises emphasized the importance of working in teams and why one should never be alone in those situations.
“You should never go at it alone,” Rittenhouse said. “You’re here to take care of each other. We follow the principle ‘Two is one; one is none.’”
Teamwork also requires supporting those members who need more help than the others, Rittenhouse said.
“A team is only as good as its weakest link, so you make that person the best member of your team and your team will be really good,” he said.
On the final day of the course, Airmen applied the skills they learned in more realistic area-clearing exercises at one of JBSA-Camp Bullis’ training sites.
Tech. Sgt. Johnathan Kuenzli, 902nd SFS NCO in charge of training, said situational awareness and transitioning were important aspects of the course.
“What the instructors try to show you is to continue to adjust to overcome a situation and to not quit,” he said. “These guys know what they’re doing. They start with small steps and get to the bigger steps.”
Rittenhouse said he hopes the course will bind the Airmen as a team and give them more confidence and the ability to do their jobs more safely.
“Being in the military is not just a job,” he said. “This is a big responsibility. You have to trust the people you work with.”