Equal abilities demonstrated at 128 SFS annual training

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jenna V. Hildebrand
  • 128th Air Refueling Wing
"Fire!" commands an instructor over the loudspeaker, as he overlooks a firing range full of security forces members.

A long row of M4 rifles are pointed at targets down range. Individual shots fired turn into a continuous, thunderous rumble and dust begins to rise from behind the long line of targets.

One security forces member takes a breath, holds it, and then slowly squeezes the trigger. The echo of the single shot is lost in the thunder.
"Recover!" says the instructor in a firm voice.

After switching on the safety, she stands up from the prone position and brushes a wisp of chin-length blonde hair behind her ear and under the straps of her Kevlar helmet. Though she is one of the shortest on the firing line, her small frame is donned with the same heavy equipment as the others in her squadron. She rests her hands on her flack vest lined with bullet proof plates and waits for the next command from the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance instructor.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Courtney R. Metzger, a security forces member with the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, is one of seven women who participated in the 128th Security Forces Squadron annual training at Fort McCoy, Wis. June 10 through June 15, 2013.

Members of the 128 SFS completed small arms familiarization, heavy weapons qualification, all-terrain vehicle training, the Wisconsin National Guard Leadership Development Course, land navigation and urban assault training in order to maintain their readiness and efficiency as well-trained law enforcers.

Metzger, who has been with the 128 SFS for nearly two years, was inspired by her step father, who was an Army Ranger, to join the military and more specifically military law enforcement. It was her first time completing annual training off-base with the squadron.

"We get a lot of training out here with weapons and getting used to wearing the vest with the plates," said Metzger. "We get training with the batons and with take-downs. When you're going through SF technical training, you get trained on the Taser and with pepper spray."

Metzger is also pursuing a law enforcement career as her civilian job. She is currently a student at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College and is about halfway through to getting her degree.

"Next year I'll be graduating from WITC," said Metzger. "It's a lot of cross over. It helps in the aspect of learning new techniques."

On comparing her military and civilian training, Metzger said it's nice because she'd already done it once, so she can help out other people in her college course. It makes her that much better, because she gets that much more training, she added.

"As a female in security forces, I think there are definitely challenges," said Metzger, "but it's nothing a female couldn't overcome. You definitely have to work harder and you definitely have to prove yourself a lot more than, say a male coming into security forces, but it's not impossible."

Staff Sgt. Tiffany Wunder, a security forces member also with the 128 SFS, is no stranger to being the minority as a female in security forces.

"We get treated like one of the guys," said Wunder. "You kind of have to expect that if you're going into a male-dominated career field. But I don't mind it."

Wunder has been a Milwaukee Police Officer for nine years and a security forces member for eight years. She originally started her military career with the 440th Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserves in Milwaukee until that unit was relocated. Wunder said she always knew she wanted to be in the law enforcement field.

Last year, Wunder had the opportunity to deploy with the 128 SFS to Kyrgyzstan. She was one of two females who made up the nearly 20 members who helped secure the overseas installation.

"I don't think it's harder being a female while being deployed; I think it's harder in general to be a female in the military," said Wunder.

Wunder said that while she hasn't experienced any instances of gender discrimination while deployed or at her home station, the unwritten standards are noticeably different for females in the military. Though the standards of being a security forces member may be different, Wunder said she loves her job and will continue to overcome any such obstacles.

"Not everybody can do this job," said Wunder. "I think that's why there are not a lot of females in this job to begin with. It takes a strong person."

Throughout the training at Fort McCoy, Metzger fully engaged herself into every opportunity to learn and excel at her job. She was familiarized and qualified with the M9 pistol, M14 rifle, and M249 automatic rifle. Her excitement to participate in the Leadership Development Course, which is a Wisconsin National Guard asset, paid off as she her team successfully completed all the obstacle courses.

"Honestly I think I love it more than anything," said Metzger in regard to being a member of security forces. "You get the stereotypes that women are weaker; they're not as strong, they're not as headstrong, they're not as focused. I guess you could say they're more emotional. But I don't think that's true completely. I think there's always an exception to the rule," she added.

Metzger plans to advance her career in security forces by continuing her upgrade training and looking for leadership opportunities in the future. She hopes for the opportunity to deploy in the near future.

Metzger said she really hopes that when she's in charge of troops, she can be a good mentor like her supervisors are. She is inspired by her supervisors to learn a lot from their leadership abilities and to eventually apply those skills in the future, she added.