ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England --
The room is cold and brisk as the students enter the well-lit range. Old targets are lined up across the main back wall, riddled with bullet holes from previous classes. Clicking and clanking echoes throughout with the sound of weapon inspections and the loading of ammunition. A fresh target is pinned over the last and placed at the desired distance. The air is thick with anticipation as the instructor completes his safety briefing.
“Line is ready, fire!”
The 48th Security Forces Squadron Combat Arms Training and Maintenance flight regularly conducts training to prepare Airmen for deployment or to meet specific duty qualifications.
This ensures they are ready to meet the needs of the 48th Fighter Wing and 100th Air Refueling Wing missions every day.
“We teach basic maintenance and marksmanship,” said the Non Commissioned Officer in charge of combat arms. “We’re not trying to teach people how to be experts out here, we just want them to leave here with the knowledge to be able to accurately engage a target with their weapon and maintain their weapon in different environments.”
The normal day for a CATM instructor at RAF Feltwell is more than just teaching various Airmen how to point and shoot, it involves a wide spectrum of tasks. These tasks vary anywhere from inspecting weapons with tools and gauges valuing up to $10,000, to keeping full accountability of their entire armory and the 25,000 parts valuing up to $150,000.
Almost every day there’s different types of training, including the M4 carbine, M249 lightweight-machine gun, M240B machine gun and the M203 grenade launcher.
The flight is responsible for training up to 6,000 personnel a year, and is the single point for all heavy weapon firing, inspection and gauging in the U.K., including RAF Alconbury and RAF Croughton.
“We are the largest combat arms program in the U.K.,” he said. “We have 12 instructors, we service three wings on Lakenheath and Mildenhall and have the highest operations tempo in USAFE. Our number one job is a combat arms instructor but if we don’t complete our additional duties along with our instructor duties, we can’t do anything.”