446th Security Forces Squadron Reservists train to dominate active shooters

By Staff Sgt. Nicole Celestine on February 16, 2011

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash.  -- When emotions runn high and guns blaze, the objective was crystal clear: to kill or cause serious harm to others before turning the trigger on himself or being taken down. Many law enforcement authorities across the United States categorize anyone having this approach as an active shooter. 

Because the active shooter phenomenon is unique, law enforcement agencies are developing new tactics, techniques and procedures to protect the public. Reservists with the 446th Security Forces Squadron are no exception. 

On Feb. 12, 2011, Tech. Sgts. Michael Pate and Rick Shumate, 446th Security Forces Squadron trainers, began a 48-hour training course specifically tailored for Reservists on how to neutralize active shooters on military installations around the world. Both sergeants recently completed the civilian-directed active shooting instructor course in Seattle. 

"We didn't have a structured active shooter training program," said Sergeant Pate, a uniformed security officer at The Boeing Company in Renton, Wash. "But the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, and our own at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Lewis Main in 2009 brought it home that active shooter training was necessary." 

Sergeant Pate said the U.S. government saw an urgent need for agencies to create active shooter responder teams to stop and eliminate active shooters from causing harm to others. He added Reservists run the risk of not being selected to be part of an active shooter responder team if they didn't develop these skills. 

The sergeants said the U.S. military originally spearheaded the initial active shooter training, which civilian law enforcement communities tailored to suit their needs. They said they found it ironic the training has come back full circle and is now being tailored, or 'militarized' as they phrased it, to suit the military's needs. They added the 62nd SFS Airmen are receiving active shooter training with their counterparts at JBLM Lewis Main. 

According to Sergeant Shumate, 446th SFS RAVEN program manager (specially trained SFS personnel who provide security for Air Mobility Command aircraft that transit high terrorist and criminal threat areas), the training will run over upcoming UTA weekends and cover topics like initial responders' responsibilities and basic formations. Sergeant Shumate, a former Special Weapons and Tactics member of three years, said the training is specifically tailored for Reservists completing their drill weekends, annual tour, or on long-term orders.

"This training will get anyone, even those who don't even work in law enforcement on their civilian side, to develop the mindset that active shooting can happen and they have to act," said Sergeant Pate. "We have to go from patrolling the base to active shooter mode with a completely different mindset, quick." 

The sergeants said Reservists must move quickly from tactical thinking to aggressive action. They said although they know acting aggressively is outside the scope for many people, decisive and deliberate action is necessary to stop the threat of multiple deaths and/or fatalities, all the while knowing they themselves could be harmed or killed. 

Controlled speed, surprise and aggression: Watchwords Reservists must abide by, to win the battle against active shooters. 

"It's a highly dangerous mission, but we can't fail," said Sergeant Shumate.