Readiness through virtual reality June 26, 2023

The 374th Security Forces Squadron conducted an arming and use-of-force training June 12, using the “Street Smarts” Virtual Reality training system, a tool designed to augment military security forces readiness and provide augmentee training to all Airmen that have completed their First Term Airmen Center training at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

The FTAC course is a week-long onboarding training provided for all Airmen arriving at their first assignment, following basic military training and technical training schools. It’s designed to orient Airmen with base facilities, programs, additional training opportunities, and reinforce military standards.

“We are conducting preparatory training for all new Yokota Airmen,” said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Sayre, 374th SFS non-commissioned officer in-charge of training. “This type of preparation helps us continue to foster a culture of readiness and focus on the emerging peer threats throughout the Indo-Pacific region.”

The “Street Smart” VR training system has been used for additional training by SFS units throughout the Air Force since 2021, yet this is the first occurrence of it being used for all Airmen who complete the FTAC course.

“As an instructor, I can tailor the situation to however the trainee is reacting to it,” said Staff Sgt. Charles O'Connor, 374th SFS training instructor. “We then discuss what everyone is doing well or making mistakes on, and it helps lead to a higher caliber of training outcomes.”

The VR system also employs training weapons that replicate the size and weight of the weapons defenders routinely use, such as the M9 pistol, taser, and M4 Carbine. The VR system, gives potential augmentees the practical experience they would need to handle contingencies such as unauthorized base entry or flightline security breaches.

“The way you move around in the VR is how you would in a real situation,” O’Connor said. “You have to walk through the area, you have sights and need to accurately aim to eliminate a threat.”

The new VR training program aligns with the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense initiatives to grow multi-capable Airmen, pursue persistent modernization solutions, and to retain a standard of base-wide deployable readiness.

“We found that a basic level of arming and use-of-force training can be a core component of creating ready, deployable Airmen,” said O'Connor. “Doing well in these scenarios requires trainees to use verbal commands to talk someone down or use non-lethal force.”

The introduction of the Street Smart VR system is part of an ongoing initiative to make Yokota Airmen ready to project airpower with speed, range, and flexibility.