CATM: Training Combat-Ready Airmen

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alex T. Chase
  • 442d Fighter Wing

As military members, there may be a time when you are called to arms. Whether on deployment or stationed locally, the need for combat-ready Airmen is everlasting. 


Whiteman AFB is one of many bases that offers a Combat Arms Training and Maintenance course. CATM is a wing-level program, derived from Security Forces, set to train military personnel on the use, safety, and maintenance of firearms. 


"Our goal is to make sure that any Airman deploying is capable of defending themselves with a firearm,” said SSgt. William Deitt, a Combat Arms Instructor at the 509th Security Forces Squadron here. “We teach them basic functions such as how to load and unload a weapon, how to safely handle the weapon while making sure they keep themselves and their partner safe, then we go over marksman fundamentals before heading out to the range where the whole class goes through a course of fire.”


On average, CATM provides three to four classes a week, each class lasting anywhere from four to six hours, to one to two days, depending on the firearm. 


"Most weapons, such as the M4, are one-day classes,” said Deitt. “But some Security Forces classes handle sniper rifles and heavy weapons which are two-day classes.”


CATM is a mandatory pre-deployment checklist course. Before Airmen are deployed overseas, they are required to attend the training and successfully pass the test, which consists of training portions and qualification portions set up through an in-depth firing course.


During the training portion, students start off going through basic marksmanship fundamentals, sighting their weapons as they go through a practice course of fire. The course is then switched to the qualification portion where students are evaluated and scored on their target hits and misses. 


"It’s our job to make sure Airmen are capable of using the weapon in an effective and appropriate manner,” said Deitt. “That you can be safe with the weapon and you are capable of using it on your own without anyone else helping you.”


When students successfully finish the course, they are able to go home with their weapon qualification that is good for one year.   


SSgt. Deitt encourages more Airmen to come out to CATM to get more knowledge on weapon handling and gun safety. 


"Being in a military organization, everybody has the possibility of ending up in a situation where you might need to know some of these skills,” said Deitt. 


Airmen interested in attending a CATM course can speak to their training manager or Unit Deployment Manager to find out if they are eligible for training.