Army strong Airmen at Camp Zama
By Chief Master Sgt. Allen Thomas, 374th CS
/ Published May 31, 2007
CAMP ZAMA, Japan -- The Air Force's Fitness Program makes Airmen strong -- but Camp Zama's Soldiers are giving Airmen a taste of what it means to be "Army Strong."
That's because 46 Airmen attached to the 374th Communications Squadron at Yokota Air Base, (but are actually stationed at Camp Zama, an Army post here) are learning Army-style combat life saving skills.
"The Army's Combat Life-Saving course is like the Air Force Self-Aid/Buddy Care class hyped up on massive steroids," said Master Sgt. Warren Ary, the site's satellite communications chief and recent graduate of this one-week, 40-hour course. "I found the most physically demanding portion of the course was making litters and carrying our wounded comrades over rough ground for about a quarter mile. That really saps your strength, especially when you're in full battle gear."
Senior Airman William Bland said the most striking difference between the Air Force's four-hour course and the Army's Combat Life-Saving course is the realism. Upon completion, Combat Life-Saving graduates are certified as Army Level-1 medical technicians. The Water Survival Training course takes place at the installation's pool and is less intensive than the Combat Life-Saving course, unless, like Tech. Sgt. Demond Chatman, you "can't swim and hate the water!" But at least he'll know how "to make a float out of my shirt, so if I fall in water that's over my head, I know what I'll do to stay afloat."
Nearly half of Camp Zama's Airmen completed the Army's Water Survival Training course. This class taught them how to enter deep water, survival swim, and make floatation devices out of their BDU shirts and pants. By far the most physically demanding of the three courses is the Combatives Instructor Course.
Tech. Sgt. Shahid Muhammad, a prior Marine and now an Air Force SATCOM craftsman, said, "This week of training is harder than any week of basic training I had when I was in the Marine Corps."
The Level-1 course teaches Soldiers and Airmen how to use choke holds, clinches and arm bars. The instructors toughen up the students with an exhaustive regimen of exercises, stretches and calisthenics before any sparring begins. Later, students get an opportunity to take revenge on their instructor by trying to subdue him while he administers defensive punches. Upon completing the Level-1 Combatives Instructor course, Airmen are certified as Combatives Instructors, enabling them to train others on the techniques they learned.
They're also eligible to continue their education in hand-to-hand fighting by attending the Army's two-week, Level-2 Combatives Instructor course.
Not only are these Army courses provided free-of-charge, but they sharpen Zama's Airmen for expeditionary service, foster pride and esprit de corps, and form a foundation of mutual respect and team building.