CTMC prepares rescue Airmen for the high-end fight

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jacob T. Stephens
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs

The 68th Rescue Squadron hosted an iteration of the Combat Team Member Course throughout the state of Arizona from June 22 to Aug. 21, 2020.


The CTMC is tasked to provide new Pararescuemen and combat rescue officers with advanced skills applicable across the wide range of rescue mission sets they may face downrange. Through long hours of intense training, this course put 24 deployable rescue Airmen into the fight, ready to execute the mission.


“This course is designed to provide Pararescuemen mission qualification training and traditionally hard to get five-level training line items,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Matthew Arnold, 68th RQS commander. “By the time students graduate, they will be competent and confident team members that are ready to go downrange and tackle any rescue scenario.”


This course, the largest iteration yet, hosted 24 students from across Air Combat Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, United States Air Forces Europe and Air Force Reserve Command. It also assisted in total force training through integrating the Air Force National Guard by providing mission qualification training to their Pararescuemen.


“This course helps grow confidence in those basic team member skills by building a solid foundation,” said Staff Sgt. John Morgan, 48th RQS pararescueman. “Being exposed to what your element leaders and team leaders are going to be expecting of you, whether in the battlefield or back of an aircraft, makes you a better team member and gives a better idea of what to expect in a deployed environment.”


The nine week course trains a variety of skillsets to include the following: dive; small unit tactics; marksmanship; medical; land and maritime parachute insertion; land and water rotary wing operations; technical rescue; land navigation; and survival, evasion, resistance and escape training. Throughout the phases of training, the students completed over 2,600 upgrade training items and 599 total jumps in six locations around the state of Arizona.


“This course helps get new PJs on the same page out the gate,” said Morgan. “Different units have different standard operating procedures, but this course teaches doctrine, which sets up a new pararescueman with that baseline knowledge that has been taught for years.”


The 68th RQS is a Guardian Angel formal training unit that trains students after they finish the “pipeline,” which is the technical training that potential rescue Airmen complete to learn the skills they will need in the operational Air Force.


“The military and the world needs our graduates, and we could not afford to be deterred by COVID-19,” said Arnold. “We followed the guidance of our leadership and the CDC, and then we continued to focus on the little things. We practiced social distancing where we could, we utilized hand sanitizer, masks, thermometers and we harped on personal hygiene. When we did encounter things, we met as a team to discuss risk management and accepted risks where it made sense.”


The rescue mission incurs inherent dangers, so the instructors and 68th RQS leadership evaluated and implemented the best course of action against COVID-19 that led to the successful execution of the course with zero cases between the instructors and students. The 68th RQS is just one example of how the Air Force continues to adapt, overcome and build new levels of readiness that have not been reached before, regardless of what is happening in the world around us.


“The training is vitally important because it is some of the last training before they go downrange,” said Arnold. “Once these guys graduate our course, its game time. More times than not, students graduate and within months or even weeks these guys find themselves applying these skills in a real-world situation. The CTMC course gets after Air Force priorities by restoring readiness to operational units and producing exceptional leaders ready to execute the mission.”