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Milwaukee Airmen to have new firearms training area

128th Air Refueling Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard is set to receive a Combat Arms Training Simulator (CATS). The simulator along with a new 1.1 million dollar training facility will allow year round fire arms training for up to 30 guardsmen a class.

128th Air Refueling Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard is set to receive a Combat Arms Training Simulator (CATS). The simulator along with a new 1.1 million dollar training facility will allow year round fire arms training for up to 30 guardsmen a class.

MILWAUKEE -- The 128th Air Refueling Wing is set to receive a Combat Arms Training Simulator (CATS) and Combat Arms Training Maintenance (CATM) facility at General Mitchell Air Field here. 

The facility is the result of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding being offered to 10 Air National Guard bases across the country, said Capt. Sasha Perronne, the engineering officer-in-charge at the 128th ARW's Civil Engineering Squadron. 

"This is our number one project," Perronne said. 

A total of $1.1 million is being spent on the new CATS facility, Perronne said. The contract is being offered to small construction businesses, she said. 

"Stimulus money guarantees competition," Perronne said. 

The new facility was scheduled to begin within the next two years, but the stimulus money ensures construction of the facility will begin this year, Perronne said. The building is expected to take one year to complete, she said. 

"By next summer, the building will be done," said Perronne. 

The facility will be constructed using the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, an energy-efficient and sustainable building design being implemented for all new military construction beginning in 2009, Perronne said. 

The CATS/CATM facility will provide 128th ARW members with year-round weapons training availability, an indoor weapons cleaning area, a weapons vault and storage area, several offices, and classrooms, said Perronne. 

Staff Sgt. Erin Cull, a 128 ARW Security Forces CATM instructor, elaborated on the uses of the new facility. 

"Weather really is a big factor," Cull said. 

The year-round capability of the firearms simulator will allow base personnel to schedule a simulated firing session and maintain their abilities, Cull said. 

He said the new CATS/CATM facility will allow up to 30 personnel to be trained per class, as opposed to the current limitation of eight personnel per firearms training session. 

The new facility will also provide an enhanced firearms training area for both military members and local civilian law enforcement personnel, Cull said. 

Regarding the firearms simulator, Cull said it will help the base populace to get a better marksmanship skill, and help them to build the confidence necessary to use the weapons successfully. 

"Firing a weapon is a perishable skill," Cull said. 

The 128 CES has a total of $6 million in construction contracts this year, Perronne said. 

"It's a pretty healthy year for civil engineering," said Perronne.