Defenders blast through Weapons Week

An Airman from the 824th Base Defense Squadron steadies himself while firing a M2 machine gun during Weapons Week, Jan. 23, 2018, at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla. During Weapons Week, Airmen qualify on heavy weapons to include the M2 machine gun, Mark 19 40mm grenade machine gun, M240B machine gun, M249 light machine gun, M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon, and M18 Claymore mine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson)

An Airman from the 824th Base Defense Squadron steadies himself while firing a M2 machine gun during Weapons Week, Jan. 23, 2018, at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla. During Weapons Week, Airmen qualify on heavy weapons to include the M2 machine gun, Mark 19 40mm grenade machine gun, M240B machine gun, M249 light machine gun, M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon, and M18 Claymore mine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson)

Airmen from the 824th Base Defense Squadron ensure a M2 machine gun is clear during Weapons Week, Jan. 23, 2018, at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla. During Weapons Week, Airmen qualify on heavy weapons to include the M2 machine gun, Mark 19 40mm grenade machine gun, M240B machine gun, M249 light machine gun, M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon, and M18 Claymore mine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson)

Airmen from the 824th Base Defense Squadron ensure a M2 machine gun is clear during Weapons Week, Jan. 23, 2018, at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla. During Weapons Week, Airmen qualify on heavy weapons to include the M2 machine gun, Mark 19 40mm grenade machine gun, M240B machine gun, M249 light machine gun, M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon, and M18 Claymore mine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson)

Airmen practice the firing procedures for an M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon, Jan. 24, 2018, at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla. During Weapons Week, Airmen qualify on heavy weapons to include the M2 machine gun, Mark 19 40mm grenade machine gun, M240B machine gun, M249 light machine gun, M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon, and M18 Claymore mine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson)

Airmen practice the firing procedures for an M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon, Jan. 24, 2018, at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla. During Weapons Week, Airmen qualify on heavy weapons to include the M2 machine gun, Mark 19 40mm grenade machine gun, M240B machine gun, M249 light machine gun, M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon, and M18 Claymore mine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson)

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Diamond, 820th combat operations squadron combat arms training and maintenance instructor, instructs Airmen on the firing procedures for an M136E1 AT4-CS confined space  light anti-armor weapon, Jan. 24, 2018, at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla. During Weapons Week, Airmen qualify on heavy weapons to include the M2 machine gun, Mark 19 40mm grenade machine gun, M240B machine gun, M249 light machine gun, M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon, and M18 Claymore mine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson)

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Diamond, 820th combat operations squadron combat arms training and maintenance instructor, instructs Airmen on the firing procedures for an M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon, Jan. 24, 2018, at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla. During Weapons Week, Airmen qualify on heavy weapons to include the M2 machine gun, Mark 19 40mm grenade machine gun, M240B machine gun, M249 light machine gun, M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon, and M18 Claymore mine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson)

An Airman from the 824th Base Defense Squadron steadies himself while firing a M2 machine gun during Weapons Week, Jan. 23, 2018, at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla. During Weapons Week, Airmen qualify on heavy weapons to include the M2 machine gun, Mark 19 40mm grenade machine gun, M240B machine gun, M249 light machine gun, M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon, and M18 Claymore mine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson)

An Airman from the 824th Base Defense Squadron steadies himself while firing a M2 machine gun during Weapons Week, Jan. 23, 2018, at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla. During Weapons Week, Airmen qualify on heavy weapons to include the M2 machine gun, Mark 19 40mm grenade machine gun, M240B machine gun, M249 light machine gun, M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon, and M18 Claymore mine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson)

An Airman from the 824th Base Defense Squadron carries empty ammunition boxes during Weapons Week, Jan. 23, 2018, at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla. During Weapons Week, Airmen qualify on heavy weapons to include the M2 machine gun, Mark 19 40mm grenade machine gun, M240B machine gun, M249 light machine gun, M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon, and M18 Claymore mine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson)

An Airman from the 824th Base Defense Squadron carries empty ammunition boxes during Weapons Week, Jan. 23, 2018, at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla. During Weapons Week, Airmen qualify on heavy weapons to include the M2 machine gun, Mark 19 40mm grenade machine gun, M240B machine gun, M249 light machine gun, M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon, and M18 Claymore mine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson)

CAMP BLANDING JOINT TRAINING CENTER, Fla. --

Release the trigger, pull the bolt to the rear, wait for brass or a link to fall out and continue firing. 

Those are the immediate actions Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM) instructors taught 824th Base Defense Squadron (BDS) Airmen during Weapons Week at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla.

“This is very important and critical to the type of mission we do downrange,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Cox, 820th Combat Operations Squadron, armory NCO in charge.  “While out on patrol or even at a static post these Airmen are armed with heavy weapons. These weapons could save their lives in bad situations.”

Throughout the week, the Airmen will qualify on heavy weapons to include the M2 machine gun, Mark 19 40mm grenade machine gun, M240B machine gun, M249 light machine gun, M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon, and M18 Claymore mine. 

The 824th BDS is a part of the 820th Base Defense Group whose mission is to provide high-risk force protection and integrated base defense for expeditionary air forces. This mission requires that they use heavy weapons but they must be trained to use them first.

The Airmen go through classes at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., where they learn the ins and outs of each weapon system and the immediate and remedial actions should something go wrong. However, they fire the weapons at Blanding because Moody’s range is not equipped to handle them.

“When they’re out here firing, we make sure they’re competent and comfortable with each weapon system,” said Cox. “We ensure they know what to do if the weapon jams and how to use it.”

While Cox wants each of the Airmen to feel confident with the weapons, one instructor is excited to lead.

“I’m looking forward to teaching the AT4-CS and the M2 because I haven’t taught that yet,” said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Diamond, 820th COS CATM instructor. “But, hopefully this week helps them remember what to do when they go downrange.”

One Airman in the 824th BDS feels the knowledge he will absorb during Weapons Week is vital.

“With our unit we can deploy anywhere at anytime,” said Airman 1st Class Alex Carver, 824th BDS fireteam member. “So it’s important that we know how to use the weapon, when to use the weapon and what to do if it misfires.”