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Warrior Mindset: 128 SFS members conduct tactical vehicle training

U.S. Airmen with the security forces squadron of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, adjust their night vision components on their helmets in order to drive a Humvees from the 757th Transportation Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve, Milwaukee, in complete darkness on the roads of the Richard Bong State Recreation Area, Kansasville, Wis., Feb. 28, 2014.  The 128th Security Forces Squadron trained with U.S. Army Reserve tactical vehicles to qualify in nighttime driving and night vision training during the March unit training assembly.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jenna V. Lenski/Released)

U.S. Airmen with the security forces squadron of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, adjust their night vision components on their helmets in order to drive a Humvees from the 757th Transportation Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve, Milwaukee, in complete darkness on the roads of the Richard Bong State Recreation Area, Kansasville, Wis., Feb. 28, 2014. The 128th Security Forces Squadron trained with U.S. Army Reserve tactical vehicles to qualify in nighttime driving and night vision training during the March unit training assembly. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jenna V. Lenski/Released)

U.S. Airmen with the 128th Security Forces Squadron, Wisconsin Air National Guard, pose for a group photo after military vehicle training at the Richard Bong State Recreation Area, Kansasville, Wis., Feb. 28, 2014.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jenna V. Lenski/Released)

U.S. Airmen with the 128th Security Forces Squadron, Wisconsin Air National Guard, pose for a group photo after military vehicle training at the Richard Bong State Recreation Area, Kansasville, Wis., Feb. 28, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jenna V. Lenski/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Knight with the security forces squadron of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, adjusts his night vision component in order to drive a Humvee from the 757th Transportation Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve, Milwaukee, in complete darkness on the roads of the Richard Bong State Recreation Area, Kansasville, Wis., Feb. 28, 2014.  The 128th Security Forces Squadron trained with U.S. Army Reserve tactical vehicles to qualify in nighttime driving and night vision training during the March unit training assembly.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jenna V. Lenski/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Knight with the security forces squadron of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, adjusts his night vision component in order to drive a Humvee from the 757th Transportation Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve, Milwaukee, in complete darkness on the roads of the Richard Bong State Recreation Area, Kansasville, Wis., Feb. 28, 2014. The 128th Security Forces Squadron trained with U.S. Army Reserve tactical vehicles to qualify in nighttime driving and night vision training during the March unit training assembly. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jenna V. Lenski/Released)

MILWAUKEE -- As Milwaukee residents drive to their homes on a Friday night after work, they pass an uncommon sight on their route - a convoy of military tactical vehicles on a mission to stay together and get to their destination of the Richard Bong Recreation Area to conduct nighttime driving training.

The bright and multi-colored lights of the convoy illuminate the residential route through the city and neighboring communities to the open back roads. The operators are vigilant as they drive close and cautiously together while the front-seat passenger in each vehicle continuously communicate over their radios. Civilians in their vehicles try to stay out of the way of the convoy and a few dodge their way through the pack to get ahead.

Out of the corner of his eye, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Decker, the squad leader, notices something suspicious - a few bright flashes go off in the direction of his vehicle. He immediately contacts the lead vehicle and the other members of the convoy by using their call signs.

"Victor 1 this is Victor 3," says Decker. "Suspicious activity to the right of the convoy."

Decker continues to report the activity to the rest of the convoy by using a SALUTE report; a report used by military members to convey pertinent details of out-of-place or threatening activities and objects. This method identifies the size, activity, location, uniform, time, and equipment of the suspicious activity or object.

"One person using camera flash to right of the convoy, wearing a black sweatshirt and jeans, about 5 seconds ago," said Decker over the radio transmission.

Decker's intuition and response embodies what the security forces leadership calls a "warrior mindset," and is exactly what they want to instill in all of their Airmen through realistic, hands-on training.

U.S. Airmen with the security forces squadron of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, trained with tactical vehicles from the 757th Transportation Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve, Milwaukee, to qualify in nighttime driving using night vision goggles at the Richard Bong State Recreation Area, Kansasville, Wis., Feb. 28 and 29, 2014.

The tactical vehicle training, which took place over the March unit training assembly, was developed for all the security forces Airmen to get hands-on experience with the equipment they are expected to operate when in a deployed location.

The security forces Airmen also trained in preparation for an upcoming joint-unit sustainment training exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas.

"Every single thing we do here, we're trying to instill a warrior mindset; to get them to think about doing this task in a deployed location," said Capt. Aaron Gulczynski, the squadron commander of security forces. "Not just here at home station in Milwaukee or not just for training down at Fort Bliss."

On the convoy's way down to the training site, role players simulated suspicious activity by positioning themselves ahead of the convoy, crouching behind objects, and flashing strobe lights as the convoy passed. The security forces Airmen had to assess the risks and conditions, then respond to the activity.

"If they were under attack, they would have to be able to consider some of the pressures," said Gulczynski. "There are psychological things that you have to think through, so you can work through and not freeze up during that situation. Making the training as real as possible helps instill that warrior mindset into all of our Airmen, including our traditional guardsmen."

The goal for unit training assemblies is to train on all aspects of their career field, including law enforcement, air base ground defense, and ancillary training.

Nighttime training with tactical vehicles and night optical devices was a fun and engaging opportunity for the security forces Airmen, but it also provided them valuable training that was uninterrupted, hands-on, and similar to a mission they might be called upon to perform, said Gulczynski.