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Defenders prepare Airmen for basic training

Victor Shanwenda, a member of the Development and Training Flight looks down the aiming sights of an M16 rifle, at Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass. June 8, 2019. The 439th Security Forces Squadron trained DTF members on M16s in order to familiarize them with the weapon they will qualify on during Basic Military Training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tamara Williams/released)

Victor Shanwenda, a member of the Development and Training Flight looks down the aiming sights of an M16 rifle, at Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass. June 8, 2019. The 439th Security Forces Squadron trained DTF members on M16s in order to familiarize them with the weapon they will qualify on during Basic Military Training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tamara Williams/released)

Senior Airman Darian Brown, 439th Security Forces Squadron patrolman, demonstrates how to clear the barrel of an M16 rifle, at Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass. June 8, 2019. The 439th SFS launched their new weapons simulation training program to help ensure trainees in the Development and Training Flight are ready for Basic Military Training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Tamara Williams/released)

Senior Airman Darian Brown, 439th Security Forces Squadron patrolman, demonstrates how to clear the barrel of an M16 rifle, at Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass. June 8, 2019. The 439th SFS launched their new weapons simulation training program to help ensure trainees in the Development and Training Flight are ready for Basic Military Training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Tamara Williams/released)

Holley Burns, a member of the Development and Training Flight stands awaiting instructions at the 439th Security Forces Squadron at Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass. June 9, 2019. The DTF members trained with Security Forces officers for the first time in order to prepare for Basic Military Training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tamara Williams)

Holley Burns, a member of the Development and Training Flight stands awaiting instructions at the 439th Security Forces Squadron at Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass. June 9, 2019. The DTF members trained with Security Forces officers for the first time in order to prepare for Basic Military Training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tamara Williams)

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. --
Trainees from the Development and Training Flight (DTF) here participated in a weapons safety clearing simulation June 8. 
The DTF program gives those who have recently enlisted a chance to learn Air Force culture, values, and procedures that will give them the tools to succeed in basic military training.
The structure of the program is to simulate the structure the enlistees will be exposed to in BMT.
“We have 45 members in DTF currently and 39 participating in weapons clearing procedures,” said Staff Sgt. Chelsea Barzola, Flight Chief for the Development and Training Flight at Westover. “Half of the trainees will be shipping out for basic training in a month.”
Barzola said it took about two months to set up an agreement with the 439th Security Forces Squadron to be able to implement weapon clearing simulation as part of the training.
“Trainees in DTF will now be able to learn how to clear a weapon once a month,” said Barzola. “That’s something brand new that we are doing as a flight to make sure trainees are even more prepared for what to expect in basic training.”  
Technical Sgt. Jackie Hammond, 439th SFS Flight Sergeant, helped coordinate the training with Barzola.
“Police Week is when I first learned about the DTF program,” said Hammond. “I began talking to Sergeant Barzola and together we realized the program could benefit from weapons training.”
Hammond said that he went back to his unit and asked his younger troops if they thought it was a good idea as well.
“They all said they wish they had some practice clearing and handling a weapon before basic training,” said Hammond. “I knew this was something we had to put together.”
The training will be available to DTF members every Saturday of the training weekend.
“A lot of them loved it,” said Hammond. “I saw a lot of them struggling and that’s when I knew it would help them. Hopefully this will make basic training a little easier.”
Trainees in the DTF program said the training gives them the skills to succeed at basic training.
“Being able to learn how to clear a weapon makes you more confident, especially for a trainee who has never done that before,” said Cam Tosnach, a trainee with the DTF flight. “The DTF program has been very helpful with the technical stuff and learning Air Force core values and the Airman’s creed.”
Tosnach, a New Hampshire native who enlisted in November, said that knowing the essentials will set him up for success.
“The skills I have learned have helped prepare me to face the challenges of basic training,” said Tosnach. “If you know the basics then it takes a lot of stress off.”
Tosnach believes there should be a similar program for active duty Airmen as well.
“The program would be beneficial to all new enlisted members,” said Tosnach.
Other trainees who participated discussed how the program has helped them.
“I learned what a reporting statement was, the Airman’s creed, and Air Force core values,” said Nikolaos Stavridis, a trainee in the DTF program.
Stavridis enlisted on February 20, and will be leaving for basic training on August 6.
“I’m learning the basics,” said Stavridis. “Learning these things will help me a lot when I ship out in a few months.”