PRINCE SULTAN AIR BASE, SAUDI ARABIA –
At Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Air Force has an agreement letter with the Royal Saudi Air Force, allowing the 378th Expeditionary Security Force Squadron to utilize the firing range three days a week.
So instead of forcing the U.S. Army to get their own letter, the sister services agreed, they’ll not only work together but train together and defend PSAB as an interoperable Joint Force.
“Our main range is a multi-purpose range up to a hundred meters,” said Tech. Sgt. Brady Craddock, the combat arms non-commissioned officer in charge assigned to the 378th ESFS. “The other range is a machinegun range that goes out to 400 meters where we can also fire from a vehicle-mounted position.”
Even though the Air Force’s field manuals are based on the Army’s field manuals that have been around for years. There are some nuances to how the Air Force trains their Defenders to shoot and maneuver versus how the Army trains its infantrymen.
“As an Air Force combat arms member, I’m authorized to develop different courses of fire for proficiency and sustainment,” said Craddock. “I’m able to focus on key moments like reloads, transition drills, individual movements and small team maneuvers.”
As the U.S. Military’s primary land force, the Army commonly brings multiple fireteams to the shooting range at one time and places more focus on setting a baseline foundation. Movement drills are done later in smaller groups off the range without live ammunition. The current range relationship bridges that gap in style, while the Soldiers usually outnumber the Airmen the groups are small enough to concentrate on basics and movement.
“It’s important to integrate Airmen and Soldiers on the same battle space to train in the same fashion,” said Craddock. “Cause that’s what we’ll be expected to do in a real fight.”
The Air Force and Army use the same weapon system with a few variations such as the Air Force’s M18 modular handgun and the Army’s M17 handgun with a longer slide and longer barrel system. But because of NATO rounds they each use the same ammunition and fire relatively the same, so similar firing positions and aiming principles apply.
“On the range, we help each other out,” said Craddock. “If we see a shooter that’s having issues it doesn’t matter whether they’re Air Force or Army. We’re going to go up to that individual and try to help them become a better marksman.”
Off the range, 378th ESFS Airmen and Soldiers assigned to Task Force Americal from the 1st Battalion, 182nd Infantry Regiment, augment and integrate with each other while guarding and patrolling different sites all across PSAB.
“We all have one mission, one fight and one team, that’s how it is,” said Craddock. “We work together as a Joint Force.”
Though AFCENT and ARCENT play different roles in the fight, they’re each a part of USCENTCOM’s mission of regional stability and deterrence of potential aggressors. To that end, Soldiers and Airmen must undergo routine weapons qualification training to ensure safety and proficiency standards, which they meet together at PSAB.