Common Battlefield Airman Training makes warriors out of Airmen

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Beth Del Vecchio
  • 12th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
The team was winded now. They knew they had to make it to the safe area. 

All of a sudden, someone called out, "CONTACT FRONT!" 


They knew what to do, and with that sound came the chance to show the cadre they hadn't wasted their time. 

As the first class of the Air Force's newest week-long combat training, Common Battlefield Airman Training Bridge, 56 Airmen traveled to Camp Bullis, Texas, to learn basic combat skills from other Airmen who do it for a living. 

"Common Battlefield Airman Training Bridge is the first combat-focused and expeditionary training platform for every Airman of our Total Force," said Master Sgt. Norman Watson, CBAT-B course superintendent. "Targeted individual augmentees and first-time deployers to Iraq and Afghanistan receive a mission-focused warfighting orientation, ensuring our American Airmen continue to be the best-trained force in the world." 

During the week, Airmen are placed in realistic and strenuous training scenarios used to teach skills in rifle firing, communications, individual and team movements and land navigation. 

The course cadre consists of Battlefield Airmen of all specialties, including Security Forces, Transportation, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Survival, Combat Weather, Tactical Air Control, Combat Control and Pararescue. 

"Our goal is to teach the most essential common expeditionary skills at a level every Airman, regardless of Air Force Specialty Code, can easily comprehend and apply," Sergeant Watson said. "Students live and train in a simulated deployed environment, identical to a forward operating base site structure." 

Master Sgt. Andy Weeks, an Air Force Reservist from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., attended the first CBAT-B course in preparation for a deployment to Iraq. 

Sergeant Weeks was deployed to Southwest Asia twice, for 120 days each time, to back fill for active duty. "I have also been on many short-term deployments all over the world," he said, "but in my 20 years of service, I have never attended combat skills training." 

He said the training was invaluable and much like being on a deployment. 

"The living quarters were typical of forward bases -- tents, meals ready to eat, portable bathrooms and showers. It was field conditions," he said. 

Although the camp mimicked field conditions, students had access to such amenities as a laundry facility and gym. 

During training days, Airmen are broken into squads to practice the skills taught in the classroom. The last day of the week is when all of the classroom time and practice are put to use. Students maneuver into a village, armed with training rounds and the weapon they came with. 

"It is hard to imagine what people go through if you have never been in a combat situation. You really can't tell how you will react when being fired at," Sergeant Weeks said. "Being shot at with real guns loaded with training rounds gives you an idea of the chaos that takes place when you are under fire. While training this way may be a game, it is realistic and you take the training seriously. It's not always you who has to survive, it's also others who rely on you to know what to do." 

Sergeant Weeks learned many new skills and said the experience he gained gives him confidence that he will know what to do in a combat situation. 

"That is what this training is all about," he said. "As a senior NCO, I need to know what to do if I and my people come under fire. I think now, due to this training, I can lead with a much broader idea of how to survive and be productive in a hostile situation."