Air Force first: TACP students get combative

Tactial Air Control Party students test their new combatives skills on each other at Hurlburt Field, Fla., March 31, 2011. The TACPs adopted the new curriculum as part of the Air Force Combatives Program, initated January 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Caitlin O'Neil-McKeown/RELEASED)

Tactial Air Control Party students test their new combatives skills on each other at Hurlburt Field, Fla., March 31, 2011. The TACPs adopted the new curriculum as part of the Air Force Combatives Program, initated January 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Caitlin O'Neil-McKeown/RELEASED)

Tactial Air Control Party students test their new combatives skills on each other at Hurlburt Field, Fla., March 31, 2011. The TACPs adopted the new curriculum as part of the Air Force Combatives Program, initated January 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Caitlin O'Neil-McKeown/RELEASED)

Tactial Air Control Party students test their new combatives skills on each other at Hurlburt Field, Fla., March 31, 2011. The TACPs adopted the new curriculum as part of the Air Force Combatives Program, initated January 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Caitlin O'Neil-McKeown/RELEASED)

Tactical Air Control Party students demonstrate their newly gained combatives skills at Hurlburt Field, Fla., March 31, 2011. The TACP career field is the first to be introduced to the Air Force Combatives Program, initated January 2008. (Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Caitlin O'Neil-McKeown/RELEASED)

Tactical Air Control Party students demonstrate their newly gained combatives skills at Hurlburt Field, Fla., March 31, 2011. The TACP career field is the first to be introduced to the Air Force Combatives Program, initated January 2008. (Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Caitlin O'Neil-McKeown/RELEASED)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Editor's note: This article is part of a series detailing the trials and tribulations of the students of Tactical Air Control Party class Falcon 86 on their journey to become fully qualified Battlefield Airmen.

Tactical Air Control Party Falcon Flight 86 students survived harsh wilderness conditions, challenging classroom tests and exhausting physical fitness sessions. But did they have the training needed to win a one-on-one fight?

Now they do.

Falcon Flight 86 became one of the first TACP classes to include a combatives program into their 17-week course. Students received a 40-hour foundation course that covers ground and stand-up fighting techniques.

"Being a battlefield-Airmen career field we're always out with the Army or the Marines, and we find ourselves in situations where we have to utilize these combatives techniques to defend ourselves," said Tech. Sgt. Steven Bowden, 342nd Training Squadron Instructor supervisor. "The training makes the students more confident if they're ever faced with one-on-one situations downrange."

The students learn arm bars, chokes and dominant body positions. At the end of the course, the students spar each other to test all the different moves they've learned.

Throughout Air Force history, Airmen learned various forms of combatives from the Army and Marine Corps, which tailored the missions of those branches. Now, Airmen can look forward to their own program taught by fellow Airmen.

"I believe Airmen want to be trained how to fight by Airmen with an Air Force Combatives Program," said Brad Hebing, Air Force Combatives Program manager. "This is an exciting time for the Air Force because it sends a message to our Airmen that the Air Force's culture is changing."

Gen. T. Michael Moseley, former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, mandated the Air Force Combatives Program in January 2008. The goal of the program is to develop a warrior mindset in all Airmen, as well as provide a program that meets the needs of today's Airmen in an ever-changing operational environment.

"The combatives program we instill at the schoolhouse gets very positive feedback from the students, and its one of the more fun things we do," said Sergeant Bowden. "I'm really proud and honored to be a part of history."