'The easiest day was yesterday': Combat Readiness School under way at Glenwood

Airmen strain to move inches through mud, perfecting low- and high-crawl techniques during week one of the Combat Readiness School at Tinker AFB, Okla.  Instructors drill into students the motto of “no one left behind” and watch the concept take hold as Airmen enter the pit as individuals, but struggle to the end as a team, encouraging and pulling each other to the finish. Fire team members from left are; Staff Sgt. Rich Brumbaugh, 349th Communications Squadron, Travis AFB, Calif; Staff Sgt. Christopher Kelley, 33rd Combat Communications Squadron, Tinker; Senior Airman Raid Alawar, 349th CS; and Airman Micheal Garner, 31st CCS, Tinker. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Airmen strain to move inches through mud, perfecting low- and high-crawl techniques during week one of the Combat Readiness School at Tinker AFB, Okla. Instructors drill into students the motto of “no one left behind” and watch the concept take hold as Airmen enter the pit as individuals, but struggle to the end as a team, encouraging and pulling each other to the finish. Fire team members from left are; Staff Sgt. Rich Brumbaugh, 349th Communications Squadron, Travis AFB, Calif; Staff Sgt. Christopher Kelley, 33rd Combat Communications Squadron, Tinker; Senior Airman Raid Alawar, 349th CS; and Airman Micheal Garner, 31st CCS, Tinker. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Combat Readiness School Commandant Master Sgt. Brian Kaut, far right, leads 40 Airmen on a run through the overgrown streets of Glenwood Training Area on the first day of the three-week course at Tinker Air Force Base. Students are early warned to expect the unexpected here, lessons the cadre say will help them survive in combat areas. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Combat Readiness School Commandant Master Sgt. Brian Kaut, far right, leads 40 Airmen on a run through the overgrown streets of Glenwood Training Area on the first day of the three-week course at Tinker Air Force Base. Students are early warned to expect the unexpected here, lessons the cadre say will help them survive in combat areas. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Master Sgt. Larry Shenold, Combat Readiness School's chief of academics, teaches how to handle prisoners, focusing students on what to expect in areas like Iraq and Afghanistan. The 40 students are enlisted and officers and come  from various bases but share the common future of an upcoming deployment. Training in land navigation, self-aid/buddy care and field fortifications are part of the first week.  By week three, Airmen are living and defending positions, learning to survive under sleep-deprived, harsh conditions.  (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Master Sgt. Larry Shenold, Combat Readiness School's chief of academics, teaches how to handle prisoners, focusing students on what to expect in areas like Iraq and Afghanistan. The 40 students are enlisted and officers and come from various bases but share the common future of an upcoming deployment. Training in land navigation, self-aid/buddy care and field fortifications are part of the first week. By week three, Airmen are living and defending positions, learning to survive under sleep-deprived, harsh conditions. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Airman practice tactical movements as Tinker AFB, Okla. Combat Readiness School instructors bark directions. Twenty-five pounds of gear and pounding sun require frequent hydration and have students finding ways to battle eye-stinging sweat. “If you get yourself a '70s (John) McEnroe headband, I’ll make you do push ups forever!” warns school commandant Master Sgt. Brian Kaut. (U.S. Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Airman practice tactical movements as Tinker AFB, Okla. Combat Readiness School instructors bark directions. Twenty-five pounds of gear and pounding sun require frequent hydration and have students finding ways to battle eye-stinging sweat. “If you get yourself a '70s (John) McEnroe headband, I’ll make you do push ups forever!” warns school commandant Master Sgt. Brian Kaut. (U.S. Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Students of the Combat Readiness School at Tinker AFB, Okla. take classroom training to the field, practicing detaining and searching procedures. Staff Sgt. Christopher Kelley, Tinker’s 33rd Combat Communications Squadron, takes his turn in the grass as temperatures climb into the 90s. Instructor Staff Sgt. Curtis Clawson said classes are taught year-round through snow, heat and rain. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Students of the Combat Readiness School at Tinker AFB, Okla. take classroom training to the field, practicing detaining and searching procedures. Staff Sgt. Christopher Kelley, Tinker’s 33rd Combat Communications Squadron, takes his turn in the grass as temperatures climb into the 90s. Instructor Staff Sgt. Curtis Clawson said classes are taught year-round through snow, heat and rain. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

After practicing low and high crawl techniques through a mud pit in the Glenwood Training Area at Tinker AFB, Okla., Senior Airman Jason Decker, 35th Combat Communications Squadron, catches his breath and watches the next team. Senior Airman Paul Lawrence, left, 349th Communications Squadron, Travis AFB, Calif. and Airman 1st Class Samuel Newhouse, 32nd CCS, Tinker, wait their turn. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

After practicing low and high crawl techniques through a mud pit in the Glenwood Training Area at Tinker AFB, Okla., Senior Airman Jason Decker, 35th Combat Communications Squadron, catches his breath and watches the next team. Senior Airman Paul Lawrence, left, 349th Communications Squadron, Travis AFB, Calif. and Airman 1st Class Samuel Newhouse, 32nd CCS, Tinker, wait their turn. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

“Keep your eye on me!” Airman 1st Class Octavia McLeod reminds a student detainee as the Airmen rotate through searching and detaining procedures in the Combat Readiness School taught at Tinker AFB, Okla. Airman McLeod is stationed at Tinker with the 32nd Combat Communications Squadron.  (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

“Keep your eye on me!” Airman 1st Class Octavia McLeod reminds a student detainee as the Airmen rotate through searching and detaining procedures in the Combat Readiness School taught at Tinker AFB, Okla. Airman McLeod is stationed at Tinker with the 32nd Combat Communications Squadron. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Staff Sgt. Jerry Dean, 349th Communications Squadron, Travis AFB, Calif., uses a small mirror to apply camouflage during the three-week Combat Readiness School at Tinker AFB, Okla. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Staff Sgt. Jerry Dean, 349th Communications Squadron, Travis AFB, Calif., uses a small mirror to apply camouflage during the three-week Combat Readiness School at Tinker AFB, Okla. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE -- In the lush green fields of Glenwood Training Area, just north of Tinker Air Force Base, 40 Airmen learn combat skills for upcoming deployments and operations.
   The Combat Readiness School, hosted by the 3rd Combat Communications Group, is three weeks of long, physically and mentally strenuous days, which began Aug. 6. Held in the most realistic conditions possible, officials often use the motto, "The easiest day was yesterday," to describe the course.
   "We teach everything based on a bare-base concept, which is getting there and there is nothing - no power, no tent, nowhere to live, no plumbing," said Master Sgt. Brian Kaut, CRS commandant. "We test their limits (and) it's as rigorous training we can achieve in the time frame that we got."
   More than 300 Air National Guard, Reserve and active duty Airmen attend the course annually.
   "It's primarily geared up for combat communicators that are in harm's way," said Master Sgt. Larry Shenold, CRS chief of Academics. "We give them the skills necessary to ensure their survival and to ensure they are to able to carry on their mission in the view of the threats they will encounter downrange in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places throughout the world."
   During the training, Airmen are taught courses such as the use of force, tactical movements, hazardous wildlife and field hygiene. After two weeks of classes, demonstrations and battle drills, the Airmen test their skills during a field training exercise.
   "They'll definitely be sleep deprived, hungry and we'll expect to see them make decisions and test their cognitive function under all those stressors," Sgt. Kaut said.
   "I have heard the class is a living hell," said Airman Don Hough of the 31st Combat Communications Squadron. Airman Hough is required to take the course as a new member in the 3rd Herd. He arrived at Tinker, his first installation, in May.
   After the first physical training session, Airman Hough said it wasn't as difficult as he expected, but said he was sure there was more PT to come.
   1st Lt. Chris Wiley of the 50th Space Communications Squadron at Shriever Air Force Base, Colo., said he was sure there'd be tough days, especially during the last week's field training exercise. Lt. Wiley said he is taking the course to prepare for an upcoming 365-day temporary duty assignment to Baghdad, Iraq, in September.
   Airmen in the Aug. 6 course primarily arrived from Tinker, Schriever AFB, and Air National Guard units in Missouri, North Carolina and Oklahoma.
   Classes are held every six weeks. During the first two weeks of class, CRS students may leave Glenwood in the evenings and on weekends. Starting in December, the course will undergo a significant change in operations and will run for 15 days straight.
   Because the course is so intense and time consuming, many attend as a TDY, Sgt. Shenold said.
   Master Sgt. Richard Goebel, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the 3rd Herd's Group Engineering Standards and Evaluations Flight, who recently completed the course, said the best advice he can give is to have a positive attitude.
   "If you go in with a proper attitude, not only will you learn some important skills that can save your life in a deployed environment, but you will also enjoy the course a lot more," he said.