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"Basic Expeditionary Airmen Skills Training" (BEAST)





















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Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training (BEAST) Deployment

You'll spend an entire week in a field environment where you'll learn how to survive and thrive as a warrior Airman. Some of the things you'll do are:

  • Deploy to the BEAST Encampment and live in the field environment for five days
  • Perform refresher training on all war skills
  • Set up command and control and medical casualty collection tents
  • Build defensive fighting (DFP) positions and entry control point (ECP)
  • Assigned to security teams to the DFPs and ECP to prevent unauthorized entry
  • Successfully maneuver through an IED trail and accomplish the Tactical Drill Mission
  • Build a Bare Base with TEMPER Tents and DFPs
  • React to a series of escalating exercises over a three day period
  • Perform Post Attack Reconnaissance (PAR) Sweeps
  • Perform Self Aid Buddy Care (SABC)
  • Report damage, casualty, unexploded ordinance and chemical presence to the Unit Control Center
  • React to Oppositional Force Scenarios (OFS)
  • Tear down the Bare Base and BEAST Encampment
  • Depart for Recruit Housing and Training Areas at conclusion of exercise
  • So what is BEAST week?

The BEAST replaces "Warrior Week" at Air Force Basic Military Training (AF BMT). This is where basic trainees get to put everything they've learned so far about combat situations into practice. The name may sound intimidating, but it's actually an acronym for "Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training."

At the beginning of week 7, the entire Air Force basic training class, consisting of about 800 recruits, is marched to The BEAST, which is a field training site on the Medina Annex at the west end of Lackland. It's designed as a simulated combat deployment site.

The BEAST site consists of four camps (called "zones"), named Vigilant, Sentinel, Reaper, and Phantom (Predator). Each camp consists of 10 green canvas tents used for sleeping. There are also two tents, one used for a field hospital and the other for a command post. In the center of the ring of tents is a three-story tower (where instructors keep watch so they can chew you out for doing things wrong), and a hardened building which is used as an armory and as a bomb shelter. Each zone also includes five defensive firing positions, and an entry control point (ECP). Each zone is a self-contained unit responsible for operating and defending itself.

The BEAST starts on a Monday, and recruits spend that day with the instructors, setting up camp, and reviewing all the combat lessons and procedures that they learned during the previous five weeks. The next day, the war starts, and it doesn't end until Friday afternoon. Under the previous "Warrior Week," recruits only spent two hours in a simulated combat exercise.

The "war" is actually run by the students. Before departing for the BEAST, instructors choose one zone leader and 10 small unit leaders for each zone. These student-leaders are responsible for the day-to-day "war" operations in their zone, and schedule manning for the defensive firing positions, and ECP.

Recruits sleep in their tents and wake up at 0445 each morning, where they are given an intelligence briefing on the current threat. Throughout the remainder of the day, recruits endure simulated attacks, and take action accordingly. Some attacks are chemical/biological, and others are conventional attacks. Attacks can come from the air, or from hostile ground forces, or suicide bombers. Attacks can take place at any time, day or night. MTIs and folks in the 3E9 Emergency Management career field act as the bad guys, and throw everything they have at the airmen. Throughout the day and night, recruits pull two hour shifts as camp guards in the ECP. Don't expect to get much sleep during The BEAST, kiddies.

The first 750 recruits went through The BEAST in December 2008. Most said, what they disliked the most was the amount of gear they were required to wear/carry with them at all times, and wearing chemical warfare suits and mask for hours at a time. Each recruit is required at all times to wear body armor, and helmets, and carry a rucksack loaded with three MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat), MOPP Gear (Chemical suit, gloves, boots, and gas mask), as well as carry two canteens and an M-16 rifle. This is 24 hours per day, for four days.

During the war, the instructors don't "teach." Student leaders and trainees are expected to complete assigned tasks on their own, and respond (on their own) to the various attack scenarios that are thrown at them.

Instructors then debrief (yell) about what they did wrong, and (more quietly) praise about what they did right.

The BEAST site includes a 1.5-mile improvised explosive device (IED) trail littered with simulated roadside bombs (can you tell an IED from an old soda can?). Recruits learn to spot IEDs and then use the trail in training scenarios. For example, under one scenario, recruits make their way down the "lane" in tactical formation, trying to identify IEDs from the other debris. Get too close to an IED, and it goes "BANG," and you're dead (the instructor will emphasize this point with plenty of yelling). At the end of the trail, recruits are broken into teams of two "wingmen," and negotiate a combat-obstacle course (low-crawl under netting, hide behind walls, roll behind bushes and timbers, strike dummies with the butt of your rifle, high crawl through deep sand up a 40 percent grade, ect.). Hint: DO NOT advance ahead of your wingman, and whatever you do, DO NOT stick the barrel of your rifle in the sand!

When someone is not trying to "blow them up," or "kill them," recruits can enjoy three meals per day. However, these three meals will be in the form of Meals Ready to Eat (MRE). However, you never know when an attack will come, and even your meals will be interrupted (as well as your sleep).


JOBS of BEAST week.

Your MTI and student leaders will select several trainees to take on leadership roles at the BEAST.  These roles include:

  • BEAST MONITOR - This individual functions as the Dorm Chief of BEAST and will work with other BEAST Monitors to organize and strategize.
  • TACTICAL DEPLOYMENT LEADER - Four trainees are selected to be TDLs, which are the Element Leaders of BEAST.  They assist the BEAST Monitors.
  • WEAPONS MONITOR - This trainee is responsible if anyone mishandles their weapon.  They should have weapons handling down pat.
  • SABC MONITOR - These two to three trainees are responsible for ensuring that all trainees understand SABC procedures and can execute them properly.
  • SABC is Self-Aide and Buddy Care. 
  • FEST - Field Expeditionary Skills Training. Security/tactical stuff that is meant to prepare them for what they will be doing in BEAST.

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