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OTS begins new close-combat course

by Staff Sgt. Matthew Bates
Air Force News Agency

2/19/2008 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFPN) -- Today's Airmen don't simply drop bombs or watch combat from a distance; they are in the fight.

From operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to the Horn of Africa, Airmen are consistently working outside the wire in support of their Army, Navy and Marine counterparts. This means Airmen need to know how to fight and survive in combat situations.

In line with this thinking, the Air Force's Officer Training School here recently implemented a new close-combat course into its curriculum. Called the Air Force Combatives Program Module 1, the course teaches officer trainees the basics of self defense.

"It instills the warrior ethos in the trainees, it builds their confidence and it gives them the basic skills they need should they find themselves in a situation of unarmed or hand-to-hand combat," said Lt. Col. Hans Palaoro, commander of the 24th Training Squadron.

These basic skills include learning how to apply various choke holds, how to defend while on the ground and how to use leverage and position as an advantage. The students spend hours rolling around and practicing various techniques on each other, something that is both entertaining and educational for them.

"It's really fun," said Lori Penera, an officer trainee. "And it's really good information and easy to learn. I already feel better prepared to protect myself if I needed to."

This is exactly the point of the course: Instilling confidence and tangible warfighting skills.

"We want the trainees to look at this course as more than training," said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Ulibarri, a physical conditioning instructor at OTS. "We want them to look at it as a way of life."

The goal is to make this course available to all Airmen, starting with basic training, but that is still a ways in the future, said Colonel Palaoro. The program also will offer other, more advanced modules in the future. These are still under development.

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