126. Sleep-optimizing training. Part 1

Dr Sara Alger is a DOD sleep research scientist and has a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. She discusses the science of optimally learning and training in regards to the critical role sleep plays in encoding, retaining and retrieving new, complex information. This is important for all Operators, trainers and educators. Read more

Special-Operator Trainers Outline Evolution of the Battlefront Airman

From Defense.gov Candidates training to be special operators evolve to the enemy that’s developing by adapting and trying to overcome it, two Air Force special-operator trainers said yesterday at the Pentagon in the Defense Department’s “Showcasing Lethality” briefing series. “From the battlefront and the training enterprise, from our standpoint, we are the foundation of what builds our battlefront airmen, to include our combat control operators, our pararescuemen, our [tactical air control party] operators and our special operations,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Robert Gutierrez Jr., superintendent of standards and evaluations for Air Education and Training Command’s Battlefield Airmen Training Group, at Joint Base-San Antonio-Lackland in Texas. He and Air Force Master Sgt. Thomas J. Gunnell, a tactical air control party craftsman assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico, provide some of the most rigorous training that goes into being a battlefield airman. “We try to basically build individuals that would never quit, [and] get them through arguably some of the hardest DoD training that’s out there,” Gutierrez said of the mostly junior-enlisted candidates, many of whom are right out of high school. While the two trainers said their attrition rate used to be up toward 80 percent and 90 percent, it’s now closer to 69 percent. “It’s still pretty rough, and it’s extensive and hard,” Gunnell said of the selection and training processes. Changes in Training “How we have come to this point is honestly through innovation and change,” he said, noting implementation of courses, such as an eight-week pilot program called the Battlefront Airmen Preparatory Course, which has added to changes in training. “We are making individuals that come through from [basic military training] fitter, faster, stronger and more mentally resilient,” Gunnell said, “[while we] familiarize them with the training and the types of environments we’re going to put them in.” Gutierrez emphasized how the jobs that result from the intense training involve huge responsibilities. “In some instances,” Gutierrez said, “they’re E-4s [or] E-5s controlling million-dollar aircraft, [and they] are responsible for lives and making the right moral and ethical decisions on the battlefield.” Yet, the trainers don’t just build war fighters — they build responsible noncommissioned officers and train them to go out and “do the fight,” Gutierrez said. “We’re building the best candidates out there in the world,” he added. They agreed that today’s technology, which produced equipment such as unmanned aircraft and sophisticated munitions has taken training a long way in recent years. Full-on Operators Gunnell said trainers must turn candidates into “full-on operators” for the operational force because they’re essential in light of the operations tempo made necessary by numerous global threats. Training is now more science-based, with strength and conditioning coaches, athletic trainers and even physical therapists, he noted. “We have operations psychologists that are sitting there watching and assessing these candidates to make sure we are taking the right individual that’s going to make the right decision when it’s needed,” he said. Emphasizing that safety is their No. 1 concern, the trainers said they prepare candidates in all environments to meet the needs of building a fitter, faster, stronger and mentally resilient airman to support any given effort. Gunnell said today’s candidates are “amazing” in their physical and mental abilities. “We’re not getting the same guys, probably, that [Gutierrez] and I were when we first came in,” he said. “The [people] we’re getting now are stronger and smarter. Their aptitude levels are just unreal. “It’s awesome to see them grow from young airmen,” said he continued. “We put them out on the battlefield … in Afghanistan and Iraq, everywhere all over the world, and they just take it and come back with a little experience. They get a little confidence, and then we’re able to grow a little bit further. I teach them so much based off what I’ve learned. But then they come back with that experience. They teach the next crop of guys coming in.” Training special operations candidates is becoming more lethal, Gunnell said, drawing on experience from war in Afghanistan and Iraq. “We’ve been doing this for 17 years now, and it’s helped us grow the nation’s young people and [produce] some incredible individuals.” //ENDS//

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Training so others may live

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE , WA, UNITED STATES 06.29.2018 Story by Senior Airman Sean Campbell  92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs   Air Force Pararescuemen are the only elite, American task force with direct focus and training to provide full-spectrum personnel recovery operations in conventional and unconventional warfare.  Recently, PJs assigned to the 68th Rescue Squadron out of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, spent three days at Fairchild Air Force Base training with 36th RQS to get familiarized with the UN-H1 Huey airframe. “On the first day, we started with land alternate insurgent and extraction methods,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Peters, 68th RQS pararescueman training instructor. “This included fast rope, rappel and hoist work.” During the second day, the PJs conducted water operations from the Hueys. Low and slow freefall swimmers jumped into water and fast-roped to save patients from the water. The integration of the Huey and PJs are needed for the teams to communicate with each other while they are on location. For the last day of training they executed an isolated personnel operation from start to finish. “Pararescuemen started with flying out to the location and identifying the patient on the ground,” said Peters. Then they lower themselves to the destination with a fast rope to make contact with the person on the ground. Once contact is made, they PJs perform any medical attention the patients require on the way to the hospital. The 68th RQS is the formal training unit for the Air Force’s Guardian Angel Weapon System, training PJs and combat rescue officers. The 68th RQS helps PJs and CROs meet combat capability requirements and enhances integration with joint combat forces by providing advanced skill upgrades and proficiency training. “This training is a huge part of getting Airmen to be mission qualified PJs,” said Peters. “This is a huge part of the upgrade that they need to work in the areas of operation we are currently in.” Fairchild is a beneficial location to train due to its unique training areas that are close to different landing locations. This allows the helicopter to conduct more repetitions of the training exercises. “There are a lot of high altitude training areas as well as a close-water support area and it’s simply a fantastic training area,” said Peters. PJs start out their training with a selection course at Joint-Base San Antonio, Texas. Before the trainees can attend their apprentice course, they must complete dive school, survival school, emergency medical technician basic and a paramedic course. From there, they go to the apprentice course which is a six-month school where they cover all of the basics of being a pararescuemen. The training at Fairchild is part of a seven-week course that allows the certified PJs to deploy down range. This training is provided to PJs so they can do the best possible job in helping Americans return home safely. Their mantra, “That Others May Live,” is not taken lightly by these trained professionals who, at a moment’s notice, would run toward the gunfire to rescue their comrades. //ENDS// Story extracted from DVIDS For more operator stories like this, click HERE

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125. Cave Diving and Rescue

The Thailand Cave Rescue is underway. PJs are on the mission. We will not discuss any details until it is completed. We are using this opportunity to speak to the FDNY Scuba Team Commanding Officer who is a certified cave diver. We discuss: Principles of cave diving. Similarities and differences from open ocean diving. Considerations… Read more

124. Stem Cells Part 2

PJ Josh had a near complete rupture of his ACL and was recommended to undergo surgery, He discusses his injury, the surgeon's recommendations, research he did, and ultimately the process he went through to get a stem cell injection and the outcome.       Read more

146th ASOS builds partnership during warfighter exercise

EDINBURGH, IN, UNITED STATES 06.15.2018 Story by Staff Sgt. Brigette Waltermire  137th Special Operations Wing   EDINBURGH, Indiana – The 146th Air Support Operations Squadron (146th ASOS), Will Rogers Air National Guard Base (WRANGB) in Oklahoma City, worked with new and old partners during Warfighter 18-5 (WFX 18-5), June 5-14, 2018, at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center near Edinburgh, Indiana. Warfighter is a nine-day, 24-hour warfighter exercise that brought together the 146th ASOS with the Oklahoma National Guard 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (45th IBCT) and for the first time, the Minnesota Army National Guard 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division (1/34th ABCT). Eight participants from the 146th ASOS squadron were split between the two units to provide continuous planning assistance for the Army training audience. “Our contribution to this exercise is to support our two aligned partners,” Master Sgt. Christopher Vaughn, 146th ASOS tactical air control party (TACP) noncommissioned officer in charge. “It is our opportunity to integrate with all the different army entities and shops that we will work with when we deploy.” Warfighter 18-5 (WFX-18-5) was conducted to help battalions under the 34th Infantry Division reinforce Army battle drills in a computer-simulated combat environment. Conducting these operations in a virtual battlefield allowed the Soldiers to fine-tune standard processes and see the real-time combat results of battle plans, actions and decisions. “It’s extremely important to build a team mission command, but it’s more than that – it’s getting to know each other,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Kemp, 1/34th ABCT commander. “We have a whole year to build that and trust, and this past week has been critical for that.” In the past, the 146th ASOS had only worked with infantry brigades (the 45th IBCT and the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in California), so integration with the armored brigade has offered the squadron an opportunity to expand their skill set, said Lt. Col. Craig Ilschner, commander of the 146th ASOS. “They behave and operate differently from an infantry brigade, so it has been a learning experience for us… but the 1/34th have been great working with us and helping us better understand the way they operate,” he said. During the exercise, the 146th ASOS acted as a realistic asset during the training and generated requests for air support that were received from the division. Their job during the exercise was to help the Army fire support officer create a joint tactical air request and help submit close air support requests through the Air Force. Master Sgt. Benjamin Lake, 146th ASOS chief of weapons and tactics, was one of four 146th ASOS members who worked directly with Soldiers in the 1/34th ABCT mobile tactical operations center in 12-hour shifts. This was the fifth warfighter exercise for him, and he said each one has been better than the last. However, he also said WFX-18-5 has been particularly special because of the integration between the 146th ASOS and the 1/34th ABCT. “The training right now is to help us integrate with the 1/34th ABCT and to let them know what we’re doing,” said Lake. “We’re really learning how their particular brigade operates.” The 146th ASOS participates in warfighter exercises when necessitated by their Army partners. As a longstanding partner, the 45th IBCT is not new to the processes of the 146th ASOS. In 2008, the 146th ASOS was established as a tenant unit on WRANGB to support the 45th IBCT and 75th IBCT. They deployed with the 45th IBCT to Afghanistan in 2011 and have regularly been on missions and training exercises since 2013. Their training has evolved over the years to coordinating joint air support for joint and combined operations, such as during Operation Allied Spirit in 2016, in which the 45th and 146th replicated a multi-national division in an operational environment with 12 other countries. “Our relationship overall has really evolved from basic tactical execution with the TACP six years ago to joint operational planning,” said Chief Warrant Officer Rowdy Isbill, targeting officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 45th IBCT. “Our relationship as a guard element with the 146th rivals any active duty unit.” For Ilschner, WFX 18-5 was not only an opportunity for training and building the 146th ASOS’ existing working relationship with the 45th IBCT, but it also served as proving ground for their new partnership with the 1/34th ABCT. “This is the foundation of what will be a relationship that I expect to grow and improve over the next several years,” Ilschner said. “We like to be experts at what we do, and we align well with the 1/34th because they have the same training mindset and operational paradigm.” //ENDS// Click HERE for the original story from DVIDS.

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Maximize Performance; Q&A with Team ST Coach Shawn

Sanderson Performance’s Coach Shawn; founder of Team ST, sits down with Specialtactics.com to talk workouts and maximizing performance. 1)    What were your primary goals when developing Team ST? When developing Team ST I first looked at what the requirements to graduate selection are and why so many applicants were unable to make it. I then compared that against my own experience and what I thought were the limiting factors that made selection more difficult. In the end it came to one of two things: 1- Mindset, most guys that didn’t make it decided, at some point, that this job wasn’t for them and they quit. The fact of the matter is, they were right, and there is nothing I can do or say to anyone that will change their perspective when they are confronted with that level of stress, other than take it in a little at a time and eventually you’ll be done. 2- Injury, those that did not quit, either washed out due to an acute injury, or developed a sustained injury from overtraining that lead to a failure to train (FTT). This is typically not due to a lack of fitness. Everyone that made it to this point successfully completed the PAST, some of them actually already met or exceeded grad standards before they even started. How is this possible? They trained to the test, in a low threat environment, and never built the foundation to survive the 10 weeks leading up to the test. Skipping crucial elements leads to failure. This is what drove my primary goals, which are: –  Attack limiting factors that cause trainees to fail –  Build a foundation in athleticism that will translate to efficient movement, both biomechanically and neurologically – Build resiliency and reduce risk of injury from the volume achieved during selection – Provide a “team like” setting for candidates to start holding each other and themselves accountable, because NO ONE graduates on their own.   2) The market is flooded with free and premiere workout programs.  How is Team ST programming unique and why have athletes chosen Team ST over the competition? At the end of the day, you get what you pay for; there are some decent free programs and some great premier programs. However, what I have found is that the majority of “pre-selection” programs are limited to a 6-12 week canned training plan and are composed of high volume work similar to what the candidate will see at selection. This sounds like it makes perfect sense; however, the issue arises when the athlete hits a plateau or sustains an overtraining injury and falls behind in their fitness levels. Even worse, if this is the only training they do prior to showing up at selection, they typically already have an ailment that is bothering them or they are to a point where 10 more weeks of high volume training will break them, literally. Additionally, there typically isn’t any kind of team atmosphere with these unless guys have a local network and they are able to run the same programs together. Team ST solves these problems by providing programming specifically designed to build a foundation that will aid them in withstanding the rigors of selection.  Additionally, the programming is constantly changing in order to prevent plateaus or regressions in performance. Finally, Team ST is truly a worldwide “team.” We have members from all over the world who are sharing their performance on the team leaderboard, discussing nutrition protocols and recovery techniques, and asking whatever questions they can think of regarding the team or training concepts. All of this is happening within the training app. The feedback that I have received so far, is that guys are feeling stronger, healthier and are having less complaints of chronic pain than when they were following other programs.   3) Who is Team ST designed for?  Is Team ST tailored for the athlete preparing for the PAST or for the athlete attempting to meet selection grad standards? Team ST is designed far anyone who wants to maximize there performance and increase there chances of surviving selection. We typically conduct the PAST  (or the operators PT test for phase 2 candidates) through the various training cycles. We won’t test the grad standards here as they aren’t applicable to building the athletes capabilities. If you have a strong foundation, you will keep up with the progression just fine throughout selection. Because of this, I can say with confidence, that an athlete who conducts consistent training with Team ST for at least 20-24 weeks will have a significant advantage physiologically than someone who simply builds up to a 6 mile run, 4K meter swim and high rep body weight calisthenics. As I stated earlier, I have seen guys enter with grad standard numbers and not graduate[…]

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Air Force Reserve PJ laid to rest in Florida

From the 920th Rescue Wing: Loved ones and fellow Reserve Citizen Airmen paid respects as Master Sgt. William Posch, 36, of Indialantic, Florida, was laid to rest with full military honors at Florida Memorial Gardens, Rockledge, Florida, Thursday, June 21. A seasoned combat veteran, Sergeant Posch served as a pararescuemen assigned to the 308th Rescue Squadron providing combat rescue support for Inherent Resolve when he and seven Airmen were killed in an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crash in Anbar Province, Iraq, March 15, 2018. Also in attendance were Maj. Gen. Derek P. Rydholm, Deputy to the Chief of Air Force Reserve, Headquarters U.S. Air Force Washington, D.C.; Maj. Gen. Ronald “Bruce” Miller, 10th Air Force commander; and Chief Master Sgt. James W. Loper, Command Chief both with the 10th Air Force, Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas; as well as the 920th Rescue Wing commander, Col. Kurt A. Matthews and wing leadership. Patrick AFB flags flew at half-staff while fully military honors were rendered by the Team Patrick Honor Guard at Sergeant Posch’s final internment site to include firing one of three volleys. Pararescue teammates from the 308th RQS folded and presented flags to Posch’s immediate family members. Posch was one of three Guardian Angel Airmen the pararescue community lost; Capt. Mark Weber, 29, a combat rescue officer assigned to the 38th RQS, Moody AFB, Georgia; and Staff Sgt. Carl Enis, 31, assigned to the 308th RQS. “It is hard to lose members of your team and your community, but the loss of these warriors will take a long time for us to recover from.  Bill was an exceptional leader who did everything in his power to ensure his team was ready for any situation. Bill demanded excellence in everyone around him…a remarkable father, operator and leader, and his legacy will live forever in the squadron!” said Lt. Col. Timothy Hanks, 308th Rescue Squadron commander. Each Guardian Angel Airmen in attendance followed a time-honored pararescue tradition of pounding the flash from their maroon berets into the lid of the casket. This was followed by the completion of a round of memorial pushups to honor their fallen teammate. “I’ve been impressed with all the men and women of the 308th who’ve been able to honor their fallen heroes and continue to move on with the rescue mission we all serve,” said Col. Kurt Matthews, 920th Rescue Wing commander.  “The greatest tribute to Bill will be how we keep his memory and legacy alive in the ways that we conduct our training, our missions, and ourselves.  He helped lead us by example, and still does.” Posch had 18 years of service, the last 10 were with the 920th RQW. Posch supported major military operations at home and abroad including Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, Joint Task Force Katrina, JTF NASA Space Shuttle launches and recoveries, and most recently last August JTF Harvey, where he and his fellow rescue warriors rescued 235 hurricane victims in Texas from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, as well as a long-range rescue at sea saving two German citizens whose sailboat caught fire and sunk a month earlier. In 2013, Sergeant Posch was recognized as one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. Among his decorations were the Air Medal with silver oak leaf cluster; an Aerial Achievement Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal with Valor. He was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal with Combat Device posthumously. //ENDS// Rest Easy Pikey.PJ Original story extracted from the 920 RQW

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Pararescue Support to NASA

  Members of the 103rd Rescue Squadron of the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing participated in a Sentry Aloha exercise together with the 204th Airlift Squadron of the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing. The training provided an opportunity to fold in training with NASA’s ground support equipment to be used in future human space flight missions, under the supervision of the 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron coordinated by Detatchment 3 of the 45th Space Wing’s 45th Ops Group, Human Space Flight Support Office. //ENDS// For more Battlefield Airmen videos, click HERE.

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