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Security Forces injects a dose of realism into training exercise

A fire team of 72nd Security Forces Squadron Airmen move from room to room, in pursuit of an active shooter, during a recent training exercise. Airmen used real weapons firing “sim” rounds, black-powder propelled markers, which sting “a little more than a paintball” participants said. The ammunition provides an extra level of realism.  (Air Force photo by Micah Garbarino)

A fire team of 72nd Security Forces Squadron Airmen move from room to room, in pursuit of an active shooter, during a recent training exercise. Airmen used real weapons firing “sim” rounds, black-powder propelled markers, which sting “a little more than a paintball” participants said. The ammunition provides an extra level of realism. (Air Force photo by Micah Garbarino)

Staff Sgt. Kendrick Monson rounds a corner as his team searches the abandoned clinic for an active shooter during an exercise in the old 72nd Medical Group clinic. (Air Force photo by Micah Garbarino)

Staff Sgt. Kendrick Monson rounds a corner as his team searches the abandoned clinic for an active shooter during an exercise in the old 72nd Medical Group clinic. (Air Force photo by Micah Garbarino)

Staff Sgt. Conrado Montes, playing an active shooter on a rampage, returns fire with “sim” rounds as a team of 72nd Security Forces members try to take him out during a training exercise in Tinker’s soon-to-be-demolished clinic. More than 100 officers rotated through the training, which lasted five days. (Air Force photo by Micah Garbarino)

Staff Sgt. Conrado Montes, playing an active shooter on a rampage, returns fire with “sim” rounds as a team of 72nd Security Forces members try to take him out during a training exercise in Tinker’s soon-to-be-demolished clinic. More than 100 officers rotated through the training, which lasted five days. (Air Force photo by Micah Garbarino)

A fire team of 72nd Security Forces Squadron Airmen up a stairwell in pursuit of an active shooter, during a recent training exercise. Airmen used real weapons firing “sim” rounds, black-powder propelled markers, which sting “a little more than a paintball” participants said. The ammunition provides an extra level of realism.  (Air Force photo by Micah Garbarino)

A fire team of 72nd Security Forces Squadron Airmen up a stairwell in pursuit of an active shooter, during a recent training exercise. Airmen used real weapons firing “sim” rounds, black-powder propelled markers, which sting “a little more than a paintball” participants said. The ammunition provides an extra level of realism. (Air Force photo by Micah Garbarino)

After the team was successful at taking out the shooter, Tech. Sgt. Ernist Surber gives them an after action report on what he observed during their individual drill. Sergeant Surber is a graduate of the two-week Active Shooter Instructor Course at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. (Air Force photo by Micah Garbarino)

After the team was successful at taking out the shooter, Tech. Sgt. Ernist Surber gives them an after action report on what he observed during their individual drill. Sergeant Surber is a graduate of the two-week Active Shooter Instructor Course at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. (Air Force photo by Micah Garbarino)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The smell of cordite fills the hallway. It always lingers after gunfire. Bodies are down, writhing and calling for help. The fire-team pushes down the hallway. They're met by more gunfire. The team moves forward, breaking through apprehension. People are dying. They move crisply down the hallway, checking corners, calling out instructions to one another. At the end of the hallway one of them acquires the target. They open fire in unison and the "bad guy" is down.

That was the goal for the instructors training 72nd Security Forces Airmen during an active shooter exercise at Tinker Air Force Base. More than 100 Airmen rotated through the training over five days. The training took place inside the abandoned, soon-to-be demolished 72nd Medical Group Clinic.

Both the active shooter and the fire teams were armed with operating weapons firing "sim" rounds, which are black powder propelled markers that hurt "a little bit worse than a paintball," Airmen said. Instructors had 90,000 sim rounds on hand for the week-long exercise. The weapons and ammunition provide a level of realism that isn't otherwise possible.

"It stings and will leave a little bruise. You definitely don't want to get shot because you'll know it when you are," said. Tech Sgt. Ernist Surber.

Sergeant Surber is a graduate of the Active Shooter Instructor Course at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He and a cadre of other instructors donned safety gear and followed the fire teams' every move, observing and providing feedback that could eventually save lives.

"We're looking at weapons safety, movement, clearing techniques, target acquisition, communication and a lot more," Sergeant Surber said.

The active shooter was played by 72nd SFS member Staff Sgt. Conrado Montes. Sergeant Montes played the part required by instructors, sometimes flanking the team and sometimes remaining stationary behind cover.

"Sometimes I feel like the hunter and sometimes the hunted. It really depends on how sharp the fire team is," Sergeant Montes said. "There's always a little bit of apprehension when the team comes after you."