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Air Force ROTC adapts training in the face of COVID-19

Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets retrieve their paper targets and replace them with new paper targets after completing their weapons qualification July 9, 2020, at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance range on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets retrieve their paper targets and replace them with new paper targets after completing their weapons qualification July 9, 2020, at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance range on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Each flight of cadets ensured the range was ready for the next flight of cadets by picking up brass casings and preparing targets for the next round of qualifications. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jackson Manske)

An Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet demonstrates to a fellow cadet how to properly load ammunition into her handgun’s magazine July 9, 2020, at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance range on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

An Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet demonstrates to a fellow cadet how to properly load ammunition into her handgun’s magazine July 9, 2020, at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance range on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Cadets practice the wingman concept by looking out for one another and working as a team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jackson Manske)

An Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet helps a fellow cadet load a handgun magazine July 9, 2020, at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance range on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

An Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet helps a fellow cadet load a handgun magazine July 9, 2020, at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance range on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Each flight of Air Force ROTC cadets was reduced from 60 cadets to only 16 in response to the COVID pandemic in an effort to limit the spread of the virus. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jackson Manske)

An Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet removes ammunition from a case while loading a Beretta M9 pistol before qualifying July 9, 2020, at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance range on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

An Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet removes ammunition from a case while loading a Beretta M9 pistol before qualifying July 9, 2020, at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance range on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from all around the country come to Air University for training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jackson Manske)

Staff Sgt. David Ikner demonstrates how to handle a Beretta M9 pistol safely with a class of cadets from the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps July 9, 2020, at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance facility on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

Staff Sgt. David Ikner demonstrates how to handle a Beretta M9 pistol safely with a class of cadets from the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps July 9, 2020, at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance facility on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Ikner emphasized the importance of weapon safety and explained the index finger should remain off of the trigger until ready to fire. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jackson Manske)

An Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet handles a Beretta M9 pistol during a class session July 9, 2020, at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance facility on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

An Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet handles a Beretta M9 pistol during a class session July 9, 2020, at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance facility on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Air University hosts Air Force ROTC field training experiences for students as an opportunity to enhance leadership capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jackson Manske)

Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets take their paper targets off the stands.

An Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet fires a Beretta M9 pistol while qualifying July 9, 2020, at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance range on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Cadets wear both eye protection and ear protection on the range to mitigate risks involved with firing a weapon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jackson Manske)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets completed Combat Arms Training and Maintenance amid the COVID-19 pandemic July 9, 2020, at the CATM facility on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. 

In response to the pandemic, we’ve gone from teaching two classes of 60 cadets each day to now teaching six classes of 16 cadets per day, said Senior Airman Christopher Murphy, a combat arms instructor with the 42nd Security Forces Squadron. We’re still training roughly the same number of cadets but in a much more condensed time frame.

Among the precautions taken to reduce contact between cadets and limit potential exposure to COVID-19, Air Force ROTC cadets are now required to wear colored reflective belts that identify their flight. This measure makes sure that each flight is self-contained and eliminates the potential risk of COVID-19 spreading between flights.

These precautions help maintain the quality of our officer’s training throughout the pandemic and ensure that our mission readiness as a branch of service does not degrade as a result of the pandemic.

“In order for them to go to their operational base and be prepared and to be set up for success, they really need to make sure that they’re going through all of the proper training that the past cadets and past members have gone through,” said Murphy. “It really is nice that ROTC worked with us to figure out a schedule that could keep everyone’s best interest and health in mind and to keep the operation going.”