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NEWS | May 9, 2024

An afternoon with CATM

By Airman 1st Class Adisen Smith 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The importance of Combat Arms Training and Maintenance goes back to the 1950s, during the attack on Kimpo Air Base, South Korea. The base was overrun by communist forces, comprised of North Korea and the Chinese Armies.

In the after-action report, it was discovered that most Airmen did not have the proper training on firearms, and were often issued unserviceable weapons, due to a lack of proper maintenance.

In 1957, the former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Curtis LeMay published a memorandum, “USAF Small Arms Proficiency.”

This memorandum directed the formation of the predecessor known today as CATM. As the only specialty training in the entire Department of Defense, CATM has personnel specifically trained in small arms instruction, weapon maintenance, and range administration and management.

"The internal defense of USAF bases and the survival of downed aircrew members may be dependent upon individual proficiency with firearms." said LeMay.

Today, every Airman with a weapons training requirement must attend a CATM course to meet mission objectives.

Since February 2024, all Airmen with a tasking of weapons qualification are required to learn Limited Visibility Engagement techniques. The instruction and qualification course hours are the same; however, the class time must be shifted to the evening in order to meet the requirements for limited visibility.

“For the most advantageous attack, most forces wait until nightfall,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Britton Smith, 633d Security Forces Squadron CATM section chief. “With modern armies going toe to toe on the battlefield with modern technology such as night vision devices, it’s becoming more and more common in our adversaries' inventory.”

Regardless of your AFSC, it is every Airman’s responsibility to defend themselves, their wingmen, and their resources as the military continues to develop and implement a combat mindset. It is important to understand that warfare isn’t always conducted in broad daylight, under ideal conditions.

During the course, shooters will be taught and evaluated on their abilities to effectively identify and eliminate threats in what was previously considered non-standard conditions.

“Warfare is ever changing,” said Smith. “We must continue to adapt and improve upon the lessons learned from past conflicts and current events.”

For more information about the limited visibility training, contact your Unit Deployment Manager to see if you or your Airmen are eligible.