412th Security Forces Squadron competes in Advanced Combat Skills Test

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  • By 412th Security Forces Squadron
  • 412th Test Wing

Video footage by Blaine Torres, Lindsey Iniguez and C.J. Raterman. Video editing by Harley Huntington. 

The 412th Security Forces Squadron united 32 members from eight different teams, each member hailing from various internal sections or flights, to form one large cohesive team for the unit’s first-ever Advanced Combat Skills Test, on Edwards Air Force Base, California, June 24-28.

“The ACST provides us a platform to not only demonstrate our preparation for peer conflict but a focused time to truly gauge our effectiveness. We hope to host more such events with a broader audience,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Gordon, 412th SFS Commander.

The ACST began with each member completing a physically grueling Combat Physical Fitness Test individually, followed by a four-person team event targeting muscle groups and cardiovascular endurance akin to combat conditions.

Next, the competitors received a warning order, tasking them to construct, brief and execute an Operational Planning Order to defeat an enemy threat by the end of the course. At dawn the following day, the 32 competitors embarked on a six-phase marksmanship course, testing their accuracy, critical thinking and weapon manipulation skills as they expended over 1,400 rounds downrange, making their steel targets resonate with the sounds of precision and lethality.

While awaiting their turn on the range, competitors learned new tactics for small unmanned aerial system utilization and defense in collaboration with 416th Flight Test Squadron Emerging Technologies Integrated Test Force and 773rd Test Squadron Human Factors Integration, enhancing their surveillance and drone-defeat capabilities. 

On Wednesday, competitors moved indoors to the Air Force Combatives room, where they participated in a single-elimination tournament showcasing ground combat skills and weapon takeaway techniques. During breaks, they established standard operating procedures for tactical modernized communications equipment.

The following day, base residents could see the competitors on a land navigation course with SERE specialists, plotting and finding six grid coordinates within a timed challenge before lunch. Later, the ACST competitors executed small troop movements, established objective rally points, and neutralized a small enemy threat using drone capabilities.

“During the ACST we not only worked as individuals, not only as a team, but we came together as a soul force to show that we are able to accomplish or tasks and missions,” said Staff Sgt. Shane Cale, 412th SFS Combat Arms Instructor. “With the professional skill sets that each one of us has gained over the years, it gave us the opportunity to gain experience from one another to further advance and sharpen our selves for the near future not only for the times of war but for ourselves as individuals.”

The final day saw the competitors executing their Operations Order, their chants of "Team of Teams" echoing through the whipping winds of Southern California, as if the Joshua Trees were amplifying their spirit. This event served as the foundation for a larger-scale assessment across all Air Force Materiel Command security forces squadrons, aiming to identify top performers who would represent the command in the global Defender’s Challenge.

“This ACST is unique. During its execution competing teams must also plan a larger operation together using our latest technologies and tactics,” Gordon explained.

Additionally, it provided opportunities for joint service members and other specialists to compete within the Multi-Capable Airman training concept, fostering a diverse and highly skilled force ready for any challenge.

Winners were based on both individual and team-based performances. All scores were compiled to solidify overall winners of the ACST. The top performers for this year’s ACST were:

Top Performing Team: Team 6 (Staff Sgt. Clay Taylor, Staff Sgt. Timothy Montano, Staff Sgt. Shane Gale, and Senior Airman Ian Fernandez)

Noncommissioned Officer Tier Top Performer: Staff Sgt. Shane Gale
Airman Tier Top Performer: Senior Airman Ian Fernandez

“Competitions like the ACST are amazing because they make you get out of your comfort zone which forces you to push yourself that much harder and keeps the egos on the sidelines when you know that everyone beside you is fighting together for that common goal, to show that they are always ready for what comes next,” Gale said.