‘Less than lethal’: How defenders prefer to protect
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- At only 20 years old, Airman 1st Class Edward Carter is responsible for protecting the lives of thousands of Airmen stationed at Kunsan Air Base, dozens of F-16 Fighting Falcons and countless other assets here.
He and hundreds of other 8th Security Forces Squadron Airmen stand ready, around the clock, to respond to any danger. Although prepared to use deadly force to protect and defend, they instead aim to control situations through "less than lethal" methods.
Several of these patrolmen underwent training Aug. 17 to learn proper use of the expandable baton, one of several techniques that don't have a fatal outcome.
"This type of pain compliance gives our defenders just another tool to use to resolve problems," said Staff Sgt. Frank Simpson, 8th SFS security forces trainer. "Batons increase our ability to defend ourselves and others; they are used when the subject has become assaultive, but their actions are not perceived by the officer or sentry to cause serious physical injury or death."
He added that batons are one of the last resorts before lethal force, but he has yet to see a situation escalate to either level in his nine years working Security Forces.
The annual expandable baton training covers various proper striking techniques and taking on single and multiple attackers. Security forces Airmen must give loud and clear vocal commands when dealing with subjects to give them the chance to comply.
"During our initial technical training, we're taught to be assertive," said Simpson, "but being loud and aggressive comes more easily after dealing with different situations on the job."
After learning the proper techniques, each student fought against a fellow student dressed as "Red Man" for 90 seconds. This padded suit allows for a realistic training scenario since the 8th SFS Airmen can practice their newly-acquired skills without holding back. When Red Man fought back or resisted, they had to apply more pressure.
"This training is spot-on because it lets us experience how much force is necessary to detain a subject," said Carter. "It changes according to their behavior. Batons quickly let them know they need to back off and comply. It takes getting into a mindset that, 'Hey, I might not want to apply this much force, but I will do what I have to in order to keep everyone safe."
Before making the decision to use the baton in aggressive situations, security forces Airmen try other less than lethal methods such as Tasers and butt strokes with their rifles.
After completing a 13-week training course at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, security forces Airmen are entrusted to guard the gates and patrol U.S. Air Force bases and assets around the world. This type of continual training ensures they are prepared to protect and defend at a moment's notice.