LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Lights off, screen on, two security forces Airmen walk into the simulator and pick up their weapons. Master Sgt. Jeremy Covington, the 189th Security Forces Squadron S4 superintendent and instructor of the use-of-force simulator, opens the program, and a non-lethal scenario appears on the screen. The defenders encounter a clearly agitated individual who will not heed their warnings. Pulling out a taser designed specifically for the simulator, one Airman feigns the man on the screen into a passive state.
The simulator is interactive and even includes flashlights for night scenarios. The Arkansas Air National Guard defenders practice multiple scenarios using this simulator, meeting the criteria for annual use-of-force training in the most efficient, cost-saving way. The system is also portable and can be used at recruiting events and family days.
“This is a great way to ensure all our defends receive the proper annual training,” said Covington. “The benefits are cost reduction, ammo conservation, and they have the opportunity to practice skill-building, and interactive training of lethal and non-lethal use of force. We can also practice this whenever we want, without planning months out and coordinating with different units and locations. It’s not all about the cost of the training but the availability of it. This makes it much better.”
Typically, the unit conducts training near a firing range to practice building-entry, patrol movements and shoot/no-shoot scenarios. While the simulator guarantees training and practice whenever needed, it doesn’t match real training scenarios.
“What you don’t get from the sim system is the feeling and genuine reaction of being hit,” Covington said. “When you get hit with an actual sim round, you know it. You lose some of the response on the simulator here in the building when you get ‘shot’ or someone comes at you. People react differently when they take an actual sim round to the chest out in the field. When they take a shot back at their antagonist, the shot won’t be nearly as accurate as it would on the screen.”
All Air National Guard security force units are using the simulator program, in addition to the physical field and range training. The software includes more than 27 Guard-specific modules and 300 additional modules. The program has been used for about eight years, with new scenarios constantly added.