Proper body armor training is critical for survival

U.S. Air Force Reserve Master Sgt. Rodolfo Castro, broadcast journalist, 4th Combat Camera Squadron, adjusts an improved outer tactical vest for Tech. Sgt. Christine Jones, photojournalist, 4th CTCS, during annual tour at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., July 27, 2013. The squadron took advantage of annual tour to learn and practice night vision operations, military operations on urban terrain, wear and use of tactical gear, battlefield forensics, and more. The 4th CTCS is the only combat camera squadron in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carolyn Herrick)

U.S. Air Force Reserve Master Sgt. Rodolfo Castro, broadcast journalist, 4th Combat Camera Squadron, adjusts an improved outer tactical vest for Tech. Sgt. Christine Jones, photojournalist, 4th CTCS, during annual training at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., July 27, 2013. The squadron took advantage of the training time to learn and practice night vision operations, military operations on urban terrain, wear and use of tactical gear, battlefield forensics and more. The 4th CTCS is the only combat camera squadron in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carolyn Herrick)

U.S. Air Force Reserve Senior Airman Kevin Mitterholzer and Tech. Sgt. Francisco Govea, 4th Combat Camera Squadron, make adjustments to an improved outer tactical vest during annual tour at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., July 27, 2013. The squadron took advantage of annual tour to learn and practice night vision operations, military operations on urban terrain, wear and use of tactical gear, battlefield forensics, and more. The 4th CTCS is the only combat camera squadron in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carolyn Herrick)

U.S. Air Force Reserve Senior Airman Kevin Mitterholzer and Tech. Sgt. Francisco Govea, 4th Combat Camera Squadron, make adjustments to an improved outer tactical vest during annual training at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., July 27, 2013. As the only combat camera squadron in the USAFR, the 4th CTCS’s responsibilities are far-reaching. Proper training on night vision operations, military operations on urban terrain, wear and use of tactical gear, battlefield forensics, and more are critical to keep members current. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carolyn Herrick)

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif. -- Members of the 4th Combat Camera Squadron participated in an internally-taught, body armor familiarization training here July 27.
Body armor familiarization consists of learning how to wear tactical, body armor vests equipped with attachments, including first aid kits, magazine pouches, camelbacks, weapons, and plates. Master Sgt. Donald Allen and Tech. Sgt. Daniel St. Pierre instructed the squadron's first, in-depth training. Both instructors brought knowledge from several deployments.

"The most important things about body armor are getting it fitted for you and having the plates in the correct placement to offer the most protection," said St. Pierre. "Having a properly fitted vest will ensure maximum comfort, and, most importantly, protection."

During the class, members learned how to correctly adjust and take apart their own vests and assist others. St. Pierre also demonstrated shooting positions, both standing and prone, that could affect the placement of magazine attachments.

Senior Airman Megan Gilliland, who has worn body armor before for other training purposes, said she found the class very beneficial. She learned that ammunition pouches should be readily accessible, and their placement is critical when every second counts.

"Everyone should familiarize themselves with their body armor, even if they are just using it for training. If you know how use it properly during exercises, then you will be prepared before deployment," said Gilliland.

"4th CTCS members are part of one of the most highly-deployed units within the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command, and often embed with other branches," said Allen. "Airmen have to respond immediately to document and collect imagery worldwide. Part of preparedness is to maintain and be comfortable with their tactical armor and gear."

"Armor is most likely to be used downrange in deployed situations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Horn of Africa," said St. Pierre.