New course trains religious support teams for deployed environments

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Ashley Hyatt
  • U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Public Affairs

The first iteration of the Fieldcraft Chaplain Corps Course began March 1-5, 2021, at the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Operations School collocated with the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center headquarters at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

This 5-day pre-deployment course better prepares chaplains and religious affairs Airmen for their duties in deployed environments.

“The students learn how to respond best with mass casualties in future potential near-peer conflicts,” said Lt. Col. Greg Jans, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center staff chaplain. “This course will help us not only where we are deploying to, but for where we may be needed in the future.”

The training begins with classroom instruction and ends with a field training exercise where the religious affairs students get more familiar with their weapons while providing protection to their chaplains in a hostile environment.

“The religious affairs Airman is the eyes and ears of the chaplain and even their shield,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Abel, religious affairs senior enlisted leader of U.S. Air Forces Central Command. “Chaplains can't carry weapons, so it's the enlisted role to have that protection.”


Airmen in the chaplain corps who have been tasked with a deployment have first priority at getting a seat in FC-HC, but discussions are being held to determine how to train as many Airmen as possible.

“The long term vision for this course is that all Total Force Airmen in the chaplain corps will someday have the benefit of this training,” explained Jans. “We will decide in the next few months how many iterations we will have in the next fiscal year. The chaplain corps is working hard to see how we are going to integrate this course into what we need to do with Readiness NEXT, with FC-HC being a capstone.”

The command chaplain of U.S. Air Forces Central Command observed the course to get a firsthand look at the training that religious support teams are receiving before they deploy to his area of responsibility.

“We are proud of the team here that just led the course,” said Col. Joel Warren, AFCENT command chaplain. “And we are very excited to see what the future looks like.”

Prior to FC-HC, religious support teams received pre-deployment training like most Airmen based on their deployed location, but without the chaplain corps specific lessons.