The Profession of Arms

Story and photos by Senior Airman Chris Willis
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


“I am an Air Force Combat Arms instructor. My country’s strength lies in the men and women I train and their weapons which I maintain.”

This proud heritage is upheld by the Airmen of the 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron Combat Arms Training and Maintenance.

The CATM qualifies more than 7,000 students annually, second to the largest Air
Force training facility in Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

With 15 assigned instructors, the 569th CATM is responsible for implementing new firing qualifications for the entire area and eight geographically separated units.

“The CATM instructors were all trained and certified on the new course of fire August 2011,” said Tech. Sgt. Mernetta McCook, 569th USFPS Combat Arms NCOIC. “We also ran a few test classes prior to implementation that involved a few identified battlefield Airman groups.”

The new qualification course contains both basic firing positions and advanced tactical movements.

“The new course of fire makes the shooter think on their feet,” said Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Schrank, 569th CATM instructor. “The percentage required to pass is higher than the old course, but today’s Airmen are adapting and overcoming the differences with flying colors.”

With battlefield Airmen standing beside their sister services and doing the exact same mission, the new qualification will help adequately train these Airmen, and build confidence in their ability to handle their weapons in a joint-deployed environment.

“These courses are definitely tougher, it’s not your normal walk through, point and shoot,” said Airman 1st Class Demarc Shorter, 721st Aerial Port Squadron passenger services specialist. “This training helped me know how I respond with my rifle in a quick-reaction situation.”

The 569th CATM provides grounds for all Airmen to show their ability to employ weapons offensively and defensively in garrison and deployed. They are the “make or break” for today’s battlefield Airmen.


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