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New combat, leadership training program opens at Dover Air Force Base

The Tactics and Leadership Nexus is a first-of-its-kind facility

Delaware News Desk
Col. Matthew Jones, 436th Airlift Wing commander and Master Sgt. Kevin Veneman, TALN flight chief, cut a ribbon, marking the opening of the brand-new Tactics and Leadership Nexus July 24 at Dover Air Force Base. This is a first-of-its-kind, permanent, integrated, combat and leadership facility.

Dover Air Force Base hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Tactics and Leadership Nexus, a combat and leadership training area and course on base, July 24. It’s one of the first of its kind for the Air Force.

The scenario-based training included in TALN helps to enhance airmen’s readiness and tactical and leadership skills. Chief Master Sgt. Jeremiah Grisham, 436th Mission Support Group superintendent, talked about the new program.

“The idea of TALN was born out of senior Department of Defense and Air Force leaders’ discussions about near-peer competition and their call to action for airmen across the globe to effectively adapt to our rapidly evolving national security environment,” Grisham said.

The first TALN course is scheduled to begin in late August. Senior leaders from across the base helped establish an integrative training program that develops critical thinking and decision-making skills for airmen across all career fields.

“TALN represents a training paradigm shift that we are currently witnessing throughout the Air Force and our Department of Defense,” said Col. Matthew Jones, 436th Airlift Wing commander. “Eagle Wing is leading the way in developing our Airmen into not only skilled tacticians and strategic leaders but also cross-functional Airmen.”

Airman 1st Class John Pergler, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron structural Airman, lights a welding tool at Dover Air Force Base July 15. Airman welded steel shipping containers to help create the new Tactics and Leadership Nexus course on base.

All active-duty Dover Air Force Base members will participate in the one-day, 10-hour training course. Future participants may include Total Force Airmen, local law enforcement officers and other joint partners.

The day includes a four-hour on-site classroom session covering the topics of self-aid and buddy care; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training; weapons familiarization and critical thinking.

“The biggest part of the TALN day is the leadership and critical thinking,” said Master Sgt. Kevin Veneman, TALN flight chief. “They get you thinking outside the box and to think about what your next option is.”

The hands-on portion includes a mask confidence training chamber and the leadership reaction course, a series of physical puzzles and tactical challenges. Participants finish with an exercise in a simulated deployed environment.

The TALN instructors are seven hand-picked Dover Air Force Base members, each from different career fields to represent the full spectrum of combat readiness.

Multiple units from the base, including active-duty and reservist, took part in constructing the $500,000 facility and program.

“It was a total synchronization between a lot of different units that don’t normally work together,” said Senior Master Sgt. Peter Leborgne, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron operations flight superintendent.

Airman 1st Class Sheila Tilden, 436th Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance, paints a medical evacuation course at Dover Air Force Base July 15. Members from the 436th MXS volunteered to help build Dover’s first, permanent, combat and leadership course, Tactics and Leadership Nexus.

Members and volunteers from across the base contributed over 6,000 hours to complete this project over the past few months.

“It was a lot of fun seeing it from the beginning to the end, from when it just was an empty parking lot,” said Staff Sgt. Eric Erford, 436th CES TALN structural site lead.