U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Daniel McShan, 86th Security Forces Squadron combat arms training and maintenance instructor at Ramstein Air Base, lives to teach.
“I spent some time with CATM, and saw how much fun the instructors had teaching and helping others,” said McShan, who started his CATM adventure 6 months ago. “I liked the idea of assisting students and helping them improve.”
McShan joined the Air Force as a Security Forces Airman and his first assignment was at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Once he arrived at Ramstein Air Base for his second assignment, he decided to pursue his goal of becoming a combat arms instructor.
“Ever since my first annual feedback, I made sure to add that I wanted to become combat arms,” said McShan. “My leadership noticed that I kept putting that in my performance reports, so they gave me the opportunity.”
To some, combat arms might seem like all they do is shoot weapons, McShan assures that there is more to the job than just that.
“We have to inspect and gauge all weapons across most of U.S. Air Forces in Europe,” said McShan. “It’s quite a lot of maintenance, and shooting is actually a small part of what we do.”
86th Security Forces Squadron combat arms instructors teach dozens of Airmen every day about critical weapon system skills. As an instructor, the classroom aspect of Combat Arms is what McShan finds most rewarding.
“My favorite part of teaching is when I can see the student struggling to comprehend a portion of the training,” said McShan. “I rephrase it to help them, and I see the concept click in their heads when they understand it. It’s really rewarding to see your efforts pay off.”
Teaching is a difficult skill and requires many hours of effort and fine tuning an approach. Being a teacher was not as easy as McShan had expected.
“The greatest challenge in becoming a teacher was my assumptions of what others may know,” said McShan. “Many have some cursory knowledge about weapons, but that knowledge isn’t always right, so I’ve learned to always go over the details with people to make sure they’re aware.”
For McShan, he finds this job immensely rewarding. He knows that the lifecycle of a combat arms instructor typically ends at the rank of Technical Sergeant, but if he could, he would stay an instructor for the remainder of his career.
“Once I joined CATM, I felt I was contributing to the mission and had a larger impact,” said McShan. “I’m very grateful to be part of Combat Arms.”
At the end of the day, McShan feels a connection to his work. He says their motto really resonates with him and drives his passion every day on the job.
“We have to be calm in the face of danger,” McShan said. “We train Airmen in peacetime to prepare for war.”