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Archive for July, 2018

General Staff Requirement (GSR) New Assault Rifle

Monday, July 16th, 2018

So often in media, we see a blurb about an acquisition program and a year or so later we see a follow up story announcing a winner.  What happened during that year?  This article is my attempt to provide insight into the goings-on of an acquisition program.

In the summer of 2016 I had the great fortune to participate in the summer weapons trials in Pakistan.  This was part of a $1.3B USD acquisition program that would select the future battle rifle for Pakistan.  The program required the initially purchase of rifles from the original equipment factory with manufacturing and licensing rights to third party sales eventually shifting to new facilities being constructed in Pakistan.  Of the handful of US companies registered to attend, I found myself to be the lone representative from the United States.  Our offering was a 7.62 NATO, AR10-type rifle with a piston operating system.  I arrived in early June for a brief two-week trip and ended up leaving two months later.

As this is a firearms related blog, I’ll focus primarily on the testing aspects of the trials, but I would like to start off with some general thoughts.

Pakistan was the United States’ key ally in Southwest Asia during the Cold War.  President John F. Kennedy solidified this relationship by giving Pakistani President Mohammad Ayub Khan a hero’s welcome in 1961. Fifty-five years later, as China’s influence in Pakistan grew with the construction of the New Silk Road and Gwadar Port, the US shifted its interests from Pakistan to India.  It is anticipated this area will soon dominate global trade.  As a participant in the General Staff Requirement (GSR) New Assault Rifle solicitation I had opportunity to visit Pakistan.  During my time there, my friend Adnan acknowledged this shift but said the US and Pakistan will again be close because the peoples of both countries like to fight and share the warrior ethos.

Entry to President Ayub’s home

I was continually impressed with the general knowledge of global politics possessed by even the common person.  
An individual might live in abject poverty, but they were keen to discuss the upcoming US election.  I was constantly being asked about my opinion of Clinton and Trump.

Typical roadside

I was impressed by the warmth of the Pakistani people and their friendliness.  I had the privilege to meet and form friendships with both the son of the former president of Kashmir and the husband of the former Bangladesh princess.  We shared fantastic conversations.

Amer and Adnan, great guys

Pakistan is a very poor country.  I showed up with the expectation that we could procure some of the basic tools needed to service the weapons during testing.  Just run down to Walmart.  Nope! For example, not even basic Allen wrench sets were available.  I informed my host Shameel, he should have told me all they have is dirt and water and to bring everything else.

When I arrived in Pakistan, the US embassy was on lockdown. I was the only American walking around.  It was a little disconcerting to see NGO, Embassy, and military types riding around in armored Land Cruisers I was just in a stock Toyota Corolla, but low vis works.  From my military and defense sales experiences, not having any US government back up or support was a bit unnerving at times.  That is when having good friends is vital.

Shameel and I at PAKORD Base, tremendous business associate. 

On to the trial…

The weapons trial consisted of numerous tests; below is a partial list:
• Technical briefings
• Hot chamber cook-off
• Iron sight accuracy
• Optics accuracy
• Penetration
• Hot and cold environmental chambers
• Interchangeability
• Endurance
• Pluff mud
• Sand test
• Mud

Each of these tests took place at different military installations and with varying numbers of participants.  
The following companies were invited to participate in the trials:
• Beretta
• Kalashnikov
• Sig Sauer
• Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation (MKEK)
• CZ
• FN Herstal
• LWRC Intl
• Zastava Arms
• Anderson Manufacturing Inc
• HK
• Hanwha
• Denel Land Systems
• Colt
• Steyr
• Armalite

Several of the companies had already completed the accuracy and environmental testing during the winter trials.  For the duration of the test only three companies were present; CZ, MKEK, and the company I represented.  Each weapon OEM and/or Pakistani representative paid for their participation in the trials including; travel, accommodations, use of military facilities, ammunition, etc — very different from the US or European approach where the military pays for the official testing.

Following is a summary of several of the tests, separated by facility with key observations notes.


The capital city of Islamabad was our operational hub from which we traveled to the various test facilities.  I took receipt of weapons from the freight forwarders and conducted an inspection as the weapons were inventoried into the Pakistani armory.  All participants conducted preliminary briefings on capabilities and waited for the requisite stamps and signatures for access to the military bases.


Cook-off test. Firing 120 rounds as quickly as possible, last 20 rd magazine is inserted into the weapon and a round is chambered.  To the best of my knowledge only the FN SCAR and HK G3 cooked off.

Accuracy at 100m.  Three rifles firing three ten shot groups apiece.

Ammunition conditioned to 21°C (69.8° F).  At least two of the three groups must be less than 3.5moa or a 102mm circle.  In all accuracy testing the most accurate weapon was the US AR10 style rifle.

Team CZ with their test fixture

Accuracy at Effective Range.  400m firing iron sights.  600m firing optical sight.  Three rifles firing three ten shot groups apiece.

Ammunition conditioned to 21°C (69.8° F).  On the range were MKE, CZ, and myself.  MKE was assigned two of the top shooters in the Pakistan army.  

CZ brought their factory sponsored competitive shooters. Representing the US was just me wishing I had spent more time using iron sights and blaming Drake and Magpul for my inability with their Pro Sights.(Actually, Drake and Magpul are great people.) My take away is that shooting groups for accuracy using iron sights is challenging especially when using the equivalent of M80 ball ammunition.  There was considerable variability inherent in the ammunition.

Range Facility after the grass was cut.  When we first showed up it looked like a field of straw.

Monsoon rains made for muddy conditions.  Seeing the black cobras crossing the roads kept me cautious when walking around.

Penetration at Effective Range.  

Shooting 10 gauge (3.42m) steel plates measuring 1.5m x 1.5m.  600m firing optical sight.  Three rifles firing three ten shot groups apiece.  
8 out of 10 shots from 2 out of 3 groups from each weapon must pass through the plate.  During winter trials none of the rifles was able to consistently penetrate the plate.  

MKE and CZ started with mixed results, but all my shots penetrated the plate.  I had set my rounds in the sun and when they were hot to the touch I made my shots.  MKE and CZ quickly followed my example and were soon penetrating the plate with every shot.  It was interesting to see the lack of temperature stability for the powder/primer combination.

Extreme Climate Test.  Hot.  360 rounds loaded into magazines and three test weapons were conditioned at +60°C (140°F) for 12 hours.  All the test weapons performed without issue except for the US weapons, all of which had the bolt catch fall out of the weapon during testing and one of which launched the muzzle break down range.

Cold. 720 rounds loaded into magazines and three test weapons were conditioned at -40°C (-40°F).   Two cycles of 120x rounds fired from each weapon.  All the test weapons performed without issue except for the US weapons which would not chamber a round and did not fire a single shot.

Interchangeability Test.  Ten weapons broken down and placed into ten trays.  The first weapon started in tray one.  The second weapon started in tray two and ended in tray one.  

The third weapon started in tray three and ended in tray two.  The other weapons followed.  Breakdown as follows: (1) Barrel and Receiver (2) Bolt Assembly (3) Bolt Carrier/Cam Plate (4) Pistol Grip (5) Trigger Mechanism (6) Gas Tube Assembly (7) Piston Assembly  (8) Recoil/Return Spring  (9) Magazine  (10) Butt Stock

The components in each tray were assembled and ten shots fired.  There weren’t any function issues amongst the competitors, but fitment was tight on several of the CZ weapons.

Endurance Testing.  Condition of the weapons; cleaned and oiled.  Multiple series of 120 round intervals.  First magazine, five single shots and the remained fired in 3 to 5 shot bursts, with a rate of fire of 85 rounds per minute.  Subsequent magazines fired in 3 to 5 shot bursts, with a rate of fire of 85 rounds per minute.  After the 120-round sequence, the weapons cooled to within 2°C (35.6°F) of ambient, and then another interval was fired.  Weapons were cleaned and lubricated every 1,200 rounds.  

Accuracy at 100M, muzzle velocity, and rate-of-fire were tested at the beginning and end of each cleaning and lubrication cycle.  Only CZ and FN participated in the endurance testing with varying results.

Base Gharo

Mud Immersion Test.  Condition of the rifles; bolt closed on an empty chamber with a loaded magazine inserted and the muzzle capped.  The SSG took the rifles into the tidal pluff mud and rolled them in the mud until they were completely covered.  

MKE and CZ rifles along with Serbian and Chinese AK’s were able to get one or two rounds fired before jamming. The US weapon wouldn’t even chamber a round.  The Russian Kalashnikov AK ran without issue.  The SSG operators commented that when conducting operations where they know they will pass through pluff mud the only weapon they will carry is the AK.


SSG Range built by US Seabees

Pluff Mud.  I wish I had better photos capturing how much mud covered the weapons.


Sand Test.  Condition of the weapons, the muzzles were capped, and a round chambered.  The weapons were buried under two feet of sand and left to bake for one hour.  The temperature was 56°C (133°F) in the shade.  After the requisite bake, the weapons were dug up and test fired.  The US weapon wouldn’t fire.  The CZ and MKE rifle along with the Serbian and Chinese AKs were able to get one or two round fired before jamming.  The Russian Kalashnikov AK ran without issue.

Can you identify all the weapons?

Vladimir Onokoy, leader of the Kalashnikov trial team (another solo representative)

Mud Test.  Condition of the weapons; the muzzles were capped, and a round chambered.  Only the Chinese and Russian AK’s fired.  The Chinese AK had a single jam and once cleared continued to run.  The Russian Kalashnikov AK ran without issue.

Conclusion: No rifle passed all the tests without issues; however, the FN SCAR was the only rifle that was finalized, officially accepted, with licensed manufacturing approved.  

However, since the completion of the trials, Pakistan has purchased 140,000 AK 103 rifles.  The number of SCAR rifles purchased is zero – too expensive.

Takeaways: The AR10-type weapon is inherently accurate especially when compared to other service rifles, but the design leaves it very susceptible to dirt and debris.  Adding a piston system to the AR15/10/M4/M16 does not improve the reliability of the system in harsh environments due to design limitations.  Considering these trials, it is interesting to ponder weapon testing requirements of the United States and the small arms currently being used and purchased by the Services.  The selection approach of the United States may need to be rethought.  If you operate in harsh conditions where maintenance and cleaning may not be available, and you absolutely must have a rifle that fires every time you pull the trigger, then the Russian Kalashnikov AK is the answer.  Otherwise, keep your weapon clean and don’t let it get dirty.

Aside from all the technical and performance components of a procurement, you can’t discount the dynamics that money and politics play in winning a solicitation – which might be a subject better off discussed over a beer.

Keep an eye out for a subsequent article detailing how to test the functional accuracy of your rifle using lessons learned in Scandinavian and Pakistan testing.  Stop believing the marketing hype and get to know your rifle.

John Kennedy is a co-founder of, a firearms accessories design and manufacturing company.  John was a contractor in OEF and OIF, with a background ranging from nuclear fuel production to ballistic protection.  He currently consults on risk management and global defense.

Buy a Benchmade Infidel Get A Free Pair Of Combat Flip Flops

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

Through July 31st, receive a free pair of

Floperator flip flops, with exclusive patches,

when you purchase any Benchmade Infidel


Limited Numbers of ATEi A9 Gen 4 Glock Back In Stock

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

ATEi is happy to announce that the upgraded Gen Glock 19 A9, first introduced right around a year ago, is back in stock in limited quantity, in plenty of time for late Summer carry.

ATEi Glock Gen 4 A9

The A9 is a “turnkey” upgraded Gen 19 modified to ATEi’s high specs and standards. It is intended to provide an end user access to a superior ATEivolved fighting pistol right out of the box.

Features of the A9 include:
· Full Top Serrations
· Enhanced Side Serrations
· 360º Medium Textured Stippling
· Side Index Points, Medium Textured Stippling
· Finger Groove Removal
· Trigger Guard Undercut
· OEM Minus Connector
· Nitride Black Finished
· Optional Trijicon Sights
· Optional Overwatch Trigger

Why a full-size gun for Summer carry? Counterintuitive though it might seem to some, summer weather (shorts, tank tops, flip-flops and all) is more appropriate for full-size pistol carry than winter weather.

ATEi Glock Gen 4 A9

“I don’t subscribe to that bullshit theory that, oh it’s summertime, so I carry a pocket gun, when it’s wintertime I’ll switch back to a big gun,” says ATEi founder and HMFIC Doug Holloway. “That is ass backward. When do you see large groups of people out doing no good? In the winter when it’s just a couple degrees out, or during summer, when it’s 80º during the day, and the 70s at night? We’re much more likely to get into an encounter in the summer than winter, at least here in a colder climate, therefore we should probably be carrying the bigger gun in that season than the other, and more mags too. Maybe in Florida it’s different, but here in Michigan you don’t see a lot of people fucking off and hanging around the gas station at night during the middle of winter.”

ATEi Glock Gen 4 A9

The ATEi A9 is offered as a choice for someone looking to purchase a full-size ATEi EDC gun without having to send a weapon in and wait on the custom work involved.


Here is a quick rundown of the A9 features and why they were selected for this model.


The medium stippling, provided by Great Lakes Custom Works, is one of several types of stippling available on ATEi guns. In the A9’s case specifically, the medium level was selected because it is a “middle of the road” choice. Additional textures include Carry, Aggressive, Hybrid, and others, but would require special arrangements to include on an A9 purchase. Stippling on the A9 grip is 360º, and additional stippling is provided for index points on the side – one for the trigger finger, when it’s not on the trigger, one for as a reference point for the support hand thumb in a two-hand grip.

Trigger Guard Undercut

This modification is intended to eliminate “Glock knuckle.” The advantages of this will vary depending upon the geometry of the shooter’s hand. Some shooters find that a proper master grip, with the middle finger touching the trigger guard, causes a rub point. The corner of the bottom of the trigger guard will wear on the first knuckle of the middle finger. Some people develop a sore or callus there, i.e. Glock knuckle.

Top and Side Serrations

The ATEi Top Serrations on the A9 are primarily intended to aid in one-handed weapon manipulations. While a good rear sight can be used to rack the slide of a weapon, a properly serrated slide face provides a larger area to hit and will work off more surfaces. ATEi Side Serrations are machined with wider valleys and narrow peaks so it will bite into the hand better. Two additional serrations are added to the rear for a larger purchase area. Front serrations are provided to assist with a press check.

Note: the small Glock logo (right side of slide) has been cut through with these serrations, as well as the letters on the left which does leave some remnants. This is a case of function over form. Removing the letters would require the milling of an additional .010” because of the compressed steel under the rollmark, which would leave the serrations half as deep and half as useful.

OEM Minus Trigger Connector

The OEM Glock Minus connector is installed to take advantage of the superior angle of its engagement surface. This reduces the pull poundage of the trigger.

Optional Sights

Sights are an extremely personal choice. Fiber optic, night sights, red vs. green fiber optic, there is a vast number of choices. The A9 usually ships with stock sights to reflect this, but buyers can opt to have ATEi install Trijicon HD orange or Trijicon yellow front night sights as well as 10-8 Performance sights instead.

Optional Trigger Upgrade

An Overwatch Precision TAC Trigger flat face trigger upgrade is offered as an option on the A9. This Overwatch trigger reduces pre-travel as much as practical without compromising firearm safety, and features a small indexing hook to ensure consistent trigger finger placement. Its flat face reduces trigger reach by 0.24 in., idealizing it for small framed shooters, while simultaneously providing for a good, straight rearward press.

OEM Quality Refinish

The refinish on the A9 is a salt-bath Nitride, more commonly known in the industry as Glock “Tennifer” or Smith & Wesson “Melanite”. This provides good corrosion resistance and a durable black finish on the weapon.

Additional information can be found on the ATEi Guns FAQ page. Specific ordering information is on the ATEi A9 page. The ATEi A9 retails for $1,147.00 and will ship to your FFL almost immediately, except in cases of Hilary Clinton voters or card-carrying Communists, in which case the cost is $2,294.00 with an indeterminable ship time.

Connect with ATEi on Instagram, @ATEiguns, or follow them on Facebook, /ATEiGuns/. You can also follow them on Twitter, @ATEiGuns, but they’ve never tweeted anything. Ever.

For further information, contact

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Fins Seawing Nova

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

Inspired by the original Seawing fin with its radical blade profile, the first Seawing Nova appeared in 2009 and
immediately turned heads with its clean-sheet streamlined design.

This innovative fin caught the attention of designers and engineers worldwide. It won Popular Science magazine’s “Best of What’s New in 2009” award. Then it handily won the ScubaLab Testers Choice award for the best performing new fin of 2010. In 2011 the Seawing Nova won the prestigious, internationally- recognized Red Dot Award for product design, then in 2013, when a full-foot version came out, it won the Testers Choice for the best full-foot fin of the year. And in 2015, after benefitting from a number of upgrades to make a great fin even greater, the improved Seawing Nova won the Testers Choice award for the best fin of the year once again.

Built with a space-age Monprene elastomer that is virtually indestructible. (The Seawing Gorilla includes a special additive to enhance stiffness and increase feedback.) Spotlighting its proprietary G4 (4th Generation) articulated hinge with enlarged Pivot Control notches that enables the entire wing-shaped blade to pivot and generate thrust, the Seawing Nova produces a propulsive snap that can rocket you through open water at top speed or propel you along reefs or in and out of tight spots with total control—all with little to no ankle or leg strain. Pivot Control Technology ensures that the most efficient 45-degree angle of attack is maintained no matter how easy or hard you kick.

The Seawing Nova also excels in low- speed maneuvering, including frog kicks, reverse kicks, and turtle backing. Offers improved handling when making small directional adjustments. This is due in large part to a slight increase in rigidity across the trailing edge of the blade which has ratcheted up responsiveness and thrust at full power, while requiring no increased kicking effort in cruising mode.

The fin features a well-engineered footplate that extends all the way to the back of the heel, maximizing power transmission while minimizing stress on legs and ankles. Co-molded Grip Pads provide efficient non-skid footing on wet surfaces. The fin also features the popular self-adjusting heel strap made of marine-grade bungee. This bungee is highly elastic, resistant to the elements and the soft heel pad with over-sized finger loop is comfortable and simplifies doffing and donning. It can also be fitted with a steel spring strap.


• Seawing Nova Open Heel This high-performance fin delivers the power, acceleration and maneuverability of a blade fin, with the kicking comfort and efficiency of a split fin. Available in five sizes (XS-XL).

Seawing Gorilla Open Heel
While identical in design to the Seawing Nova, the Seawing Gorilla uses a special additive in its compound to provide more stiffness and snap to the blade. This results in more power, speed and control for divers who like a stiffer fin with more feedback in their kicks. The stiffer blade also allows for more effective sculling, frog-kicking and reverse-kicking, making it an excellent choice for tech divers. Available in five sizes (XS-XL) Graphite ( while supplies last) Black is available by special order.


On a traditional paddle fin, during a typical kick stroke, as water flow hits the fin the blade will curve along its length. This means that the blade’s angle of attack, relative to the water flow, is going to be different at different points on the blade. In such a case, the leading edge remains too flat to generate efficient thrust, while the trailing edge flexes too much. Consequently, only the mid- section is actually able to produce efficient thrust.

Downfalls of traditional fins

 The Seawing Nova will always maintain the most efficient angle of attack along the entire length of its blade, because instead of the gradual curve of a traditional blade, the Seawing Nova’s blade stays relatively flat due to the G4 articulated joint that allows the entire blade to pivot (like the tail joint of a whale or dolphin). Also, the blade is longitudinally reinforced by pronounced rails which help prevent curvature (this is supported by the monocoque effect that takes place when the Variable Blade Geometry wing tips arc upwards).

On a traditional paddle fin, the harder you kick, the more the blade bends. That means a soft fin will achieve the ideal 45-degree angle when it’s kicked gently, but will over-bend and lose thrust when it’s kicked hard. Stiffer fins, on the other hand, achieve that ideal 45-degree angle when kicked hard but remain too flat to be efficient when kicked gently. Consequently, both types require the diver to compromise his or her kicking style to get any efficiency out of the fin.

Inconsistent Angle of attack


Soft fin  / Soft Kick    Soft fin / Hard kick       Hard Fin/ Soft kick

On the Seawing Nova, by creating a fixed angle of attack, the special G4 hinge also allows the blade to flex easily to that ideal 45-degree angle, but prevents it from flexing further as kicking strength increases. Therefore, the angle of attack is close to the optimal 45 degrees at all times, regardless of kicking strength. Kicking easy or kicking hard, the Seawing Nova lets you always maintain the optimum angle of attack for maximum performance.

On a traditional paddle fin, that non-productive or “dead” section where foot pocket and blade meet creates a lot of drag without generating any thrust.

On the Seawing Nova, engineers eliminated this section, creating a “Clean Water Blade” where water flows cleanly onto the working section of the blade, reducing drag and increasing thrust.

The ‘dead’ section between the foot pocket and the blade of a traditional fin generates drag but not thrust. We removed it! This means that water is free to flow cleanly onto the working section of the blade. Drag is reduced and thrust is increased. Seawing Nova’s also except the SCUBAPRO fin keeper. The Keeper is design to maintain your fins when not in use. They can be clipped to your wrist for climbing or OTB. They can also be attached to your plate carrier or H-Gear.


MATBOCK Skins, SCUBAPRO has been working with MATBOCK to develop Skins for SCUBAPRO fins that will help you adapt your fins to every environment. Perfect for Over the Beach or River and Stream crossing. The patent Pending MATBOCK Skins are a multi-layer adhesive/ fabric laminate designed to give the user the ability to camouflage any surface desired. The Skins are waterproof and oil resistant, can be reused mutable times. Skins are designed and laser cut specifically for the following fins, Seawing Nova’s, Gorilla and SCUBAPRO Jet fins.

RIO Ammunition strengthens its commitment to clay shooting with the sponsorship of the ISSF World Cup shooting range in Tucson, Arizona

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

RIO Shotshells ISSF WC Tucson

  • The company has also loaded the shotshells used by the shooters during the training sessions at its Marshall, Texas, factory.
  • Dallas, Texas, July 13 – RIO Ammunition is sponsoring the ISSF World Cup shooting range in Tucson, Arizona. With this sponsorship RIO Ammunition, based in Dallas, Texas, further strengthens its commitment to sports shooting, a sector in which the brand is a reference since being founded more than 120 years ago.

    RIO is sponsoring range number 2 and is a supplier of the training shotshells for shooters during the competition. To mark this special occasion RIO has released a limited edition of their emblematic Star Team Evo cartridge with “World Cup 2018” engraved in the hull. These special shotshells have been loaded at the company’s Marshall, Texas, factory which is one of the most advanced in the world and the only non-metallic ammunition factory in the state. In addition, the company will have a VIP area inside the shooting range for all their shooters, collaborators and clients.

    This World Cup will also see the debut in the International RIO Team of Antonio Bailón who is currently 10th in the International Shooting Sport Federation’s (ISSF) ranking. Antonio joins the other Spaniard Alberto Fernández, who holds 7th position in the ranking, and between them they have 16 medals in ISSF World Cups and World Championships.

    “At RIO we are proud to continue to support shooters and hunters from all over the world as we have been doing for more than 120 years. This sponsorship is another example of our commitment to this sport and to the US market. During the next few days the best international shooters will be able to test the performance of these specially-loaded cartridges from our Marshall factory and for those of us at RIO it makes us proud to do what we do.”, explains Eduardo Baeza, RIO’s Director in the US.

    For more information on RIO Ammunition visit our webpage

    You Never Know Where They’ll Show Up CENLA Edition

    Sunday, July 15th, 2018

    Thanks J!

    USAF Activates Recruiting Squadron Specifically For Battlefield Airman

    Saturday, July 14th, 2018

    The first squadron focused solely on recruiting Battlefield Airmen and combat support career fields stood up recently in a ceremony at the Medina Annex on Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland.

    The reactivation of the 330th Recruiting Squadron, U.S. Air Force Recruiting’s 28th squadron, marks the first time in Air Force history that a unit will be dedicated to recruiting men and women for hard-to-fill positions within special operations and combat support roles.

    The reactivation began with members of the Battlefield Airmen Training Group and the 330th RCS freefalling into the ceremony with the squadron guidon and the American Flag. Col. Ron Stenger, BATG commander and a special tactics officer, passed the guidon to Col. Robert Trayers, AFRS vice commander, and former commander of the 330th RCS when it was deactivated back in 2009.

    Following the jump, members of the 330th RCS participated in memorial pushups at the Lt. Col. William Schroeder Memorial.

    “Memorial pushups are a tradition in our community to recognize and honor our fallen comrades,” said Master Sgt. Benjamin Hannigan, a liaison to AFRS from the 24th Special Operations Wing. “They are usually done after strenuous physical activity, because our fallen comrades did more than their physical body could. Our physical sacrifice of remembrance could never match up to their sacrifice.”

    Shortly after the memorial pushups, the official party moved into the Lt. Col. Schroeder Auditorium for the assumption of command ceremony. Trayers provided remarks about the squadron’s heritage.

    “It’s great to be able to reactivate this squadron with a great team and new leaders,” Trayers said. “You now have the important responsibility of recruiting the folks you want at the tip of the spear of our nation.”

    The reason for activating the 330th RCS was to overcome the challenges of recruiting and training Battlefield Airmen, said Trayers.

    Since the standup of the BATG in 2016 to the beginning of the current prep course, this activation completes the span between recruiting and training in the of the revolutionary new Special Operations recruiting model.

    “What you see before you is an Air Force Chief of Staff directed fix to a 21 year problem,” said Maj. Heath Kerns, 330th RCS commander after receiving the guidon from Trayers. “Our squadron is exclusively focused on scouting, developing and guiding future Battlefield Airmen and combat support warriors to their combat calling.”

    Kerns comes to AFRS with more than a decade of experience as a special tactics officer. The 330th RCS is designed to recruit and access the next generation of Special Operations Airmen and combat support forces, which include combat controllers, pararescuemen, special operations weathermen, tactical air control party, survival evasion resistance and escape (SERE), and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD).

    According to Kerns, this recruiting squadron is necessary because you cannot mass produce special operators.

    “The old model of taking someone off the street to recruit for the Battlefield Airmen pipeline showed a 90 percent attrition rate,” he said. “Out of 100 people, only 10 would make it. This was not only a challenge for the recruiting force to have such low numbers on a high level of candidates, but also a large monetary cost for the Air Force itself.”

    Previously, a trainee would be assessed and trained by traditional recruiters, attend Basic Military Training, then begin the indoctrination course. Now, recruiters of the 330th RCS train and access potential candidates alongside contract developers, who are retired service members with experience in special operations and combat support roles.

    Master Sgt. Richard Geren, a 330th RCS flight chief for the Texas area, spoke on the importance of selecting the right candidates for Battlefield Airmen and combat support missions.

    “First, we make sure they are qualified for the Air Force,” Geren said. “Once we know they are qualified, we see if they are a good fit to become a Battlefield Airman.”

    According to Geren, a good fit includes the right mindset, attitude and understanding of the demands of the Battlefield Airmen career fields.

    “I want to sit down with every person to explain the ins and outs of every single job we are recruiting for,” he said. “I also want to share stories and examples of what a pararescueman or combat controller’s worst day might be. It’s not all Hollywood and cool gear. It’s about hard work, determination and teamwork.”

    Similarly, recruiters took a unique approach to understanding the career fields they seek candidates for by immersing themselves in to Battlefield Airmen training. Kerns commended the squadron for attending the week-long indoctrination before activing the squadron and then closed the ceremony by speaking directly to the 330th RCS members.

    “We will become an audacious display of innovation and collaboration,” he said. “We will succeed in bringing the highest quality of warriors the Air Force and the world has ever seen. You embody these qualities; they are forged through a pursuit of personal excellence and enduring great challenge so that you can inspire young men and women to follow you to their combat calling.”

    Air Education and Training Command

    Air Force Special Operations Command

    Become A Special Operations Tactical Air Control Party Airman

    Saturday, July 14th, 2018

    Do you have what it takes? The Air Force’s Special Operations Tactical Air Control Party Airmen, or SOF TACPs, are ground special operators who direct air power on the battlefield. Specifically, these Airmen call in air and ground strikes while embedded with a special forces team, such as the Army Rangers or Navy SEALs. These SOF TACPs are selected from the conventional TACP force to integrate air and ground in Air Force Special Tactics, with only 5% of TACPs serving in special operations. The majority of SOF TACPs are assigned to the 17th Special Tactics Squadron, who have been continuously deployed “outside the wire” since 9/11.

    AFSOC Public Affairs Team