PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- More than 20 Pearl Harbor-based Sailors honed their tactical skills to graduate from Security Reaction Force - Advanced (SRF-A) training at the Center for Security Forces (CENSECFOR) Pearl Harbor Learning Site March 12.
The two-week SRF-A course is designed to train and educate Sailors to prevent threats from the pier, small boat attacks or any other means of penetration in accordance with current naval directives under both normal and emergency conditions.
"What we do is take normal rates - culinary specialists, engineers, deck seaman, operation types - and teach them how to do tactically sound movements and defend the ship and their shipmates," said Master-at Arms 1st Class Francis Liberty, an SRF-A instructor. "On a ship you can't dial 911. You are your own police force."
During the first week, students received classroom instruction learning SRF-A concepts, such as tactical team management, use of deadly force and mission planning.
At the end of the first week, students left the classroom environment and entered the hangar bay across the street. The hangar bay, divided into several sections, housed a simulated ship in one of its sections. The simulated ship, or what the instructors refer to as the "ship-in-a-box," is a three-story container express (CONEX) box refurbished to look and feel like a real ship from the inside, complete with a galley, an engine room and bridge.
During the second week of training, students donned tactical gear, including face masks and groin protection, and were issued blue-painted weapons loaded with simunition. Simunition is a dyed detergent-filled round that simulates live fire ammunition and is safe, effective and designed to be fired through both police and military training weapons.
"I actually learned things that I didn't think I would learn here," said Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Jessica Roe, a recent graduate of SRF-A who is assigend to USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 80).
During each scenario, students must listen to each other and work as a team as they negotiate a range of tactical situations such as riots on the pier, shooters, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and armed hostage situations.
"The scenarios we do are as realistic as we can possibly get," said Liberty. "We don't want to give them five shooters on the first day. We want to make them go through a progression throughout the week to give them confidence."
Sailors receive the full effect of these exercises by using simunition rounds.
"Back in World War II, we were using fingers to play, and then through the ages we've been using exercise red guns, and it was up to the judges to decide who the winner is," said Liberty. "We got a little more advanced now. We have simunition rounds whereby you know instantaneously if your tactics are working. You know if you got hit, and where you got hit."
Senior Chief Master-at-Arms (EXW/SW/AW) Vincent B. Jones is the senior enlisted advisor at the CENSECFOR Pearl Harbor Learning Site. Jones, who has been in the Navy for more than 25 years, uses his experiences when teaching students the importance of SRF-A training. Jones has seen first-hand the need for the training, especially after a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2008.
"I tell the students exactly what I've seen," said Jones. "Sometimes the students don't see the big picture of what we do here. I give them experience, and let them know why the little things that we do here are so important. When I was out in Afghanistan, we'd have weapons discharges and IED explosions on a weekly basis."
Roe, who has been in the Navy for less than two years, benefited from the training and the accumulated experiences of her instructors as she takes the lessons learned back to her ship.
"It teaches me to pull together with people I don't normally work with and be able to pull a team together and be effective about it and not have to go asking the questions, having the doubts and the what-ifs," said Roe. "It's just knowing - that this is our job. This is what we have to do."
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