Combat Arms instructor keeps 176th Wing sharp Published Sept. 16, 2020 By David Bedard 176th Wing Public Affairs JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Carrying a bullhorn and wearing a neon-red hat emblazoned with “Combat Arms,” Alaska Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Brian Sears looked like he might have been ready to kick off opening night of a three-ring circus, but his camouflage uniform gave up the jig. Sears wasn’t about to introduce a high-wire act or an acrobat catapulting from a cannon, but he was rather keeping tight control of a 176th Security Force Squadron firing lane Aug. 27 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Sears is a graduate of the 10-week long Combat Arms Apprentice Course at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, where he learned how to operate firing ranges, enforce range safety, inspect and repair weaponry, perform preventative maintenance, instruct small arms weapons qualification training, and provide guidance on weapons placement to Security Forces and other base-defense force commanders. What that list of knowledge boils down to is Sears is an expert in the range of Air Force small arms in terms of employing and maintaining them, getting the ammunition to put them into action, and training others how to accurately and effectively shoot them. “A lot of our people, whether they’re aircrew or Security Forces, they carry weapons on a regular basis for their own protection or the protection of assets and resources,” Sears said. Sears said it isn’t sufficient to carry weapons, National Guard Airmen need to know how to use them safely and proficiently. “It’s necessary to make sure all of our Airmen are qualified on the weapon systems they will be carrying into harm’s way potentially,” he explained. “That way, we can get a baseline knowledge and experience with the weapons, so we can do more advanced training. They will be able to progress from there.” Sears said Defenders of 176th SFS are required to go deeper on a wide variety of weapons when compared to most other career fields. “Security Forces are required to do a couple of extra things that your average mechanic or pilot may not be required to do, but for the most part, the qualification doesn’t change,” he said. Though the basic qualification isn’t different for Defenders, Sears said Security Forces add night and low-light conditions and practice special pistol and M4 carbine combination drills. With rounds down range, holes punched in targets, and confidence built in their assigned weapons, Airmen of 176th SFS are prepared to accomplish their mission out there in the big top.