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New additions help Soldiers, Airmen fight for their lives
Members of the Arctic Warrior Combatives Academy demonstration team subdue a "hostile" during training in the Military Operations in Urban Terrain, or MOUT building, at the Arctic Warrior Combatives Academy on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson July 11, 2012. he academy now features the MOUT building and a caged fighting area just like the ones used in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Zachary Wolf)
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Combatives facility offers serious training

Posted 7/23/2012   Updated 7/23/2012 Email story   Print story


by Air Force Staff Sgt. Zachary Wolf
JBER Public Affairs

7/23/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- A group of four Soldiers, each geared for combat, stack up before entering a building to clear it of hostiles. The only information they have is there are hostiles in the building. The Soldier in the front taps the Soldier behind him to ensure everyone is ready to enter the building. He waits for the taps to return to signal everyone is ready.

Heart rates accelerated, they enter the building covering their area of responsibility. The first Soldier checks the corner to his left and scans towards the other corner and notices a hostile with a knife closing in fast.

His first move is to disarm the hostile, then put a knee into his chest. He then forces the hostile down and is on top of him immediately. The other three Soldiers cover their area. After making sure the area his area is secure, the third Soldier steps in and helps restrain the grounded hostile while the first Soldier puts the target into zip-cuffs. A hostile in the other room steps through the entryway and in panic, grabs a Soldier's weapon and tries to take it away. The Soldier hits him with a well-placed palm strike to the face.

Then he follows up with a knee strike to the chest and flips him over his hip and then pins him to the ground. After they secure the hostiles, they finish scanning the building. Mission complete, building secure.

The building secured is a new addition to the Arctic Warrior Combatives Academy called a Military Operations in Urban Terrain building, or a MOUT building.

It is designed to give close-combat opportunities that a Soldier or Airman might see in a combat zone.

"Inside the MOUT building, we don't go into too much detail on how they are going to enter and clear the room; it's when they enter the room and there is someone that is hostile in the room, how they react," said Sergeant 1st Class Jonathan Farella, United States Army Alaska Headquarters, Headquarters Division, USARAK Modern Army Combatives program director. "They go through their escalation of force and then the take-down takedown techniques, as well as maintaining security and control of the situation."

The Soldiers playing the hostiles are the ones in the group who have gone through the level one or basic combatives course.

"From level one (training) they will put on the high impact suits and we will brief them how to be a good bad guy," Farella said.

The MOUT building is used in the training of the two-week level-two combatives course, but Soldiers and Airmen must complete the level one course before pursuing that training.

The one-week basic combatives course develops trainers that graduate from the course and go back to their unit and become their unit's basic combatives trainers. They teach basic combatives to all the Soldiers in their unit, said Farella.

The techniques learned give the basic skills needed for close combat and how to stay in control and not panic.

"With technique and tactics you can actually achieve a lot more; strength is not the answer to winning the fight," said Army 2nd Lt. Manuela Chetney, a 725th Brigade Support Battalion platoon leader.

The level one course is offered to military members who want to learn how to protect themselves in case they are ever involved in a situation where hand-to-hand might be needed.

"At least level one combatives is necessary for everyone because it teaches you basic combatives skills and I think anyone in the military should know those," Chetney said.
Chetney emphasized the physical nature of the level one combatives course.

"I think they should work on their endurance, they should work on their strength and make sure they are in fairly good physical shape because a lot of the exercises here are very strenuous; they should prepare for that," Chetney said.

The two-week level two training adds the tactical side by adding ways to use your weapons as well as the techniques learned in the basic level one course. It also incorporates the use of the MOUT building to provide realistic training for the users.
They also have a vehicle they use to teach Soldiers and Airmen how to do vehicle extractions with compliant and incompliant people.

Another new addition to the academy is a caged fighting ring just like the ones used in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The main fights for tournaments start with standard rules where the combatants start stand up and grapple and use submission holds.

The intermediate rules are the same, but the semi-finals integrate kicks and strikes to the body and open hand strikes to the face.

The combatants who make it that far are the ones who enter the fighting cage for the finals.

"Finals will be held inside the cage and with an advanced set of rules with no knees, kicks to the head, elbows, head-butts or anything that could seriously injure a Soldier," Farella said.

For the last two years, the academy has hosted tournaments where the winner's unit would receive the Staff Sgt. Jacob McMillian trophy.

Last year, the team from USARAK placed 12th out of 65 in the tournament at Fort Benning, Ga.

Whether it is to get in better shape or to learn how to better defend yourself downrange, Sgt. Jonathan Anderson, a 109th Transport Company transportation operator, says the program will definitely better the individual taking it.

"Come down and check it out; it's not going to make you a UFC champion in one week, but you will learn a lot about yourself and you will increase your confidence when you go downrange," said Anderson, who is also an instructor.

The academy is currently going through renovations to expand the track and add a CrossFit area for those that also want to get in better shape.

"The Arctic Warrior Combatives Academy, is probably the best I have seen Army-wide," Anderson said.

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