The Check Six staff pose for a group photo outside the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing wing operation center Dec. 13, 2013, at the 379th AEW, Southwest Asia. The Check Six program is designed to promote vigilance and combat complacency. This helps Airmen refocus so they can react during an active shooter event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. David Miller)
Senior Airman Jordan Spangler performs a rear naked choke on Master Sgt. Jeffrey Schillawski as Staff Sgt. Daris Hennen, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Check Six facilitator and combatives instructor, provides instruction and oversight on Dec. 13, 2013, at the 379th AEW, Southwest Asia. Combatives classes are held twice a week by the Check Six staff to help Airmen learn skills they can use for self-defense if a situation arises. The Check Six program is designed to promote vigilance and combat complacency. This helps Airmen refocus so they can react during an active shooter event. Spangler is a 379th Expeditionary Communications Squadron radio frequency transmission systems technician deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany and a Portland, Ore., native. Schillawski is a 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron transient alert contracting officer representative deployed from Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass., and a Moravia, N.Y., native. Hennen is deployed from Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., and hails from Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. David Miller)
by Master Sgt. David Miller
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
12/19/2013 - Southwest Asia -- On March 2, 2011, two Airmen lost their lives and two others were seriously injured when Arid Uka opened fire on them at close range at the Frankfurt airport in Germany as they waited to proceed to Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
The Airmen involved in this terrorist attack consisted of a vehicle driver and security forces personnel.
Security forces personnel are the defenders of the Air Force. They protect the people, property and resources of the U.S. Air Force.
When a defender is not present it is every Airman's responsibility to make all efforts to protect themselves and others if the time arises.
Many Airmen have completed Combat Airman Skills Training or Combat Skills Training once or multiple times, and the active shooter scenario is one of the most important classes taught.
U.S. Air Forces Central Command has an innovative program called Check Six, which is designed to have an individual rethink his or her comfort zone and refocus on what's going on around them.
This refocus is critical in today's world of frequent chaos by an armed individual.
According to the Department of Homeland Security an active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area, typically through the use of firearms.
Typically, these active shooters have no motive and there is no pattern to the selection of their victims.
"In active shooter situations, a human can become overloaded with fear and panic causing them to freeze," said Senior Master Sgt. Mark Cantrell, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Check Six superintendent.
"With that in mind the Check Six program briefs, trains and drills decision making process called 3+2+1 = 6. Airmen have only three options, escape, barricade or fight back; only two possible outcomes, live or die; and only one chance to get it right! On average, active shooter situations last between two to ten minutes so...rapid and accurate decision making is critical to Airmen surviving," said Cantrell.
Check Six address two of the AFCENT commander's priorities: Defend the base and protect and care for Airmen.
"I can't think of a more important mission than defending the base and protecting and caring for Airmen," said Cantrell who is deployed from Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D. and a Livingston, Tenn., native. "We care for our fellow Airmen through active shooter training drills and we teach combatives in the event our fellow Airmen have to take the fight to the enemy."
Staff Sgt. Daron Benson, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Check Six facilitator teaches combatives twice a week.
"Combatives is a tool every Airman should have in their toolbox. The techniques and tactics teach them how to defend themselves during an encounter," said Benson who is deployed from Buckley AFB, Colo., and a Phoenix native.
"Airmen can make this program a success by understanding the principles of Check Six." "Every Airman becomes a "defender of the base" and "protector and caretaker for our other Air Force, Sister Services, and Coalition partners," said Cantrell.
The goal of the program is designed to promote vigilance and combat complacency. This instills an individual self-defense culture where all Airmen are trained and mentally prepared to react to any act of violence against them or others.
"The program builds confidence and reduces the "freeze-up factor" if forced to fight for their life," said Benson.
One of the Airmen injured during the Frankfurt airport shooting incident is retired Staff Sgt. Kristoffer Schneider who was shot in the right temple and is mostly blind in his right eye.
He was medically retired last year and is an example of the importance of being trained and why the Check Six program is important.
He heard the first shots fired when he was outside the bus loading luggage and ran on the bus where he was shot.
"Once he made his way onto the bus, I saw him shoot the bus driver directly in the head," said Schneider during the trial of Uka in 2012. "That's when the individual turned on myself and the rest of the Airmen."
"I was in a lot of pain," Schneider said. "I dove into the seat next to me, over Airman Edgar Veguilla, who was screaming in pain. The second bullet entered my head, which I did not feel."
After the shooting stopped, Schneider said he wanted to get up and chase the man.
Cantrell shares a bond with Schneider as a friend and an Airman.
"Kris and his wife Amanda are an inspiration and heroes to me."
"When I found out I was deploying as the Check Six superintendent, I was all in and preparing Airmen for an active shooter or life threatening situation is why Check Six is here and I am proud to be a part of it," said Cantrell.