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Basic Defender Course optimizes training for high-end fight

  • Published
  • By Vanessa R. Adame
  • 37th Training Wing Public Affairs

In a strategic move toward enhancing national defense capabilities, Air Force Security Forces is reoptimizing training to ensure Defenders are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to tackle evolving threats in a modern era. The 343rd Training Squadron’s Security Forces technical training is one of the key components in the Defender Next initiative, where the career field is undertaking the largest shift in the schoolhouse in over two decades.

In October 2023, leaders replaced the Security Forces Apprentice Course with the Basic Defender Course – a tactical change more suited to contend with the global threat environment. The most significant change includes the removal of law enforcement focused objectives, prioritizing a more substantial emphasis on air base ground defense.


“This is absolutely the largest refocus and overhaul of our doctrine, training, and the way we do business, in at least a few decades” said Lt. Col. Robert Chance, 343 TRS commander.

Along with extending field training by 10 days, the course recently underwent an extensive transformation to include the integration of stress drills and implementation of Defender Performance Optimization – a program emphasizing injury prevention to enhance overall readiness. Notably, the revamped course features enhanced weapons proficiency training with each student firing almost 1,000 rounds more than in the previous course. Chance describes this as a “very significant” improvement in training.

The enhanced curriculum integrates advanced training modules that challenge cognitive abilities, decision making under pressure and strategic thinking. It’s a deliberate move by security forces leaders to ensure the multi-capable Airmen can quickly adapt to the rapidly changing landscape of security threats.

“We are trying to physically and mentally fatigue these individuals before they get evaluated on certain objectives to see how they act under physiological stress,” said Master Sgt. Alexander Skorupski, 343 TRS instructor.

“We want to produce a well-rounded Defender where they can continue to build off the foundational blocks,” Skorupski said. “When the time comes and they're called to put their skills into action, set up a bare base or conduct any type of airbase ground defense tactics, they have that baseline knowledge and can execute whatever is asked of them.”

The course culminates in a four-day field exercise with a seven-mile ruck march in a simulated contingency operating location. “They’re going to sleep there, they’re going to eat there, they’re going to patrol out there and provide security 24/7,” Chance explained.

The field training exercise is described as the most physically demanding event of the entire course – one that is providing the foundation for 5,000 new Defenders who enter the career field each year. The optimization in training is actively equipping Security Forces professionals to confront the dynamic challenges anticipated in the future operational landscape.

“At the end of the day, we need a Defender who’s mentally resilient, physically capable, can receive orders and execute the commander’s intent,” Chance said.