Warfighter improvement continues
by Senior Airman Ashley N. Avecilla
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
11/22/2011 – MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. — The 91st Security Forces Group’s tactical response force has continued its ongoing effort of physical assessments designed to help their Airmen maintain full capability of their bodies throughout their Air Force careers.
Recently, Ty Colvin, certified strength and conditioning specialist and licensed athletic trainer, spent time with Senior Airman Luis Velasquez, 91st SFG TRF member, with the goal of establishing breacher baseline scores.
The TRF breacher is a unique member of a specialized nuclear security team responsible for breaking down entrances during the initial phases of clearing procedures. They face extreme cold temperatures, high elevation, and often travel via UH-1N helicopters for elite level capabilities of their specialized teams.
Knowing physical capabilities specific to Minot’s TRF breacher helps to balance team safety with mission response. A candidate who tries out often makes the mistake of thinking a single successful breach is all that is needed, but they fail to recognize the bigger picture.
Velasquez is a veteran breacher who understands the bigger picture.
“It is critical to understand a breacher should train both their strong and weak side,” Velasquez said. “In an emergency situation, you want to have a fully specialized breacher – this means a breacher who knows each time he or she has to re-attempt entry, the team loses the element of surprise. If we do this exercise, the breacher can better gauge his capability to respond. One of the questions our doctoral researcher wants to learn more about is how action research studies can help support warfighter capabilities.”
The doctoral research aims to promote the breacher by encouraging new approaches through action research studies.
“For example, one of my most experienced breachers has been doing this for the past three years, so my concern is how do we support him so he can sustain this momentum for the remaining years of his Air Force career?” said Capt. Neil Colvin, 91st SFG TRF commander.
“Most Airmen talk about all the heavy gear they wear while they are deployed,” Colvin continued. “They are glad when their deployment is over and they no longer have to carry all the gear. In that respect, security forces, TRF in particular, never get that recovery time.”
Colvin said security forces members use the same gear whether they are deployed or not.
“If the DAT research yields baseline scores, we could more easily pre-identify personnel with specialized physical capacities, but most importantly, we could optimize our veteran breachers,” said Colvin. “We are looking at ways to maximize performance as well as longevity through the DAT research with the University of Idaho, Moscow,” said Colvin.
While every Airman has specific physical standards to meet to maintain eligibility in the Air Force, some military occupations, including TRF, require a much higher level of physical demand. The goals of this research here is to create this new area for elite nuclear security human performance.
“In the Air Force, we use baseline scores for performing physical training testing,” said Master Sgt. Duke McDuffie, 91st SFG TRF member. “Here, we are applying the same principles to breaching in the nuclear security sector, which hasn’t been done before.”
Ty Colvin looks at functional movement screening to find out what movement patter trends are common among nuclear security breachers.
“Although it is early, we are noticing significant trends in highly specialized occupations with the 91st SFG TRF,” said Colvin. “While much of their military formalized training can teach proper mechanics or technique, the FMS model allows a clinician to predict better stability, mobility, and acquisition with repetitive rotary motions or explosive transitions from low to high.”
The key is to understand which patterns a breacher will teach their brain to remember. These functional trends to physically prepare and screen their bodies can be used to maintain enhanced capabilities for elite performance optimization. The TRF population isn’t breaking down doors in the middle-east – instead they stay in Garrison, N.D.
Minot’s climate is unique to the nuclear sector. In just the past year, North Dakota has made headlines with extreme flooding. These environmental extremes create a lot of research variables that weigh into how well nuclear security can learn to adapt.
Since this base is the first to study the TRF breacher in a nuclear security setting, this research could determine expectations for many high-profile breacher or even other protective services to function well in adversity. This could help set breacher standards worldwide.
Although Minot is the smallest of the three nuclear TRF bases, members are learning brand new ways to enhance the mission.
MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. — Members of the 91st Security Forces Group tactical response team, engage in exercise clearing scenarios here Nov. 3. TRF is one of the most physically demanding jobs that security forces personnel can be a part of here. The 91st SFG has continued its ongoing effort of physical assessments designed to help their Airmen maintain full capability of their bodies throughout their Air Force careers. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Ashley N. Avecilla)
Warfighter improvement continues.