FSCT-M: Training the next deployers

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alyssa Day
  • Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations

When Airmen are tasked to deploy to Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, the team here prepares them in advance for the important mission performed at the only state-side mortuary.

One way future deployers are prepared is by attending the Force Support Contingency Training-Mortuary Course, also known as FSCT-M. FSCT-M is a week-long course in which reserve Airmen are temporarily assigned to AFMAO to be introduced to the mission.

“We want to prepare those individuals who are going to be deployed here for what they will see, and this training helps fortify what a services Airman may be doing [in any deployed location],” said Master Sgt. Stasia Smith, AFMAO operations division section chief.

This past week, 12 participants were introduced to the five different sections in the Operations Division they could possibly support during a deployment here. Those include Command, Control and Communication, Uniforms, Dress and Restoration, Departures and the Fisher House for Families of the Fallen.

 “Within that week’s timespan, they are getting a grand overview of what each section would do,” said Smith. “That way when they come back here, they’ll know what section is best for them. It gives them a chance to get their feet wet but also give us a chance to give hands-on training right off the bat.”

Participants are also introduced to the dignified transfer mission. A dignified transfer is the solemn movement honoring the return of a service member from the theater of operations where they have died back to American soil.

Smith said people tend to connect to the mission during a dignified transfer. While those attending an FSCT-M course may not witness a dignified transfer, they complete ground training to practice the movement and acquaint themselves to the process.

“This helps reinforce the AFMAO mission, which is to provide dignity, honor and respect for our fallen [service members] and care, service and support for their families,” said Smith.

Attending this course can help Airmen return to their respective duty locations better prepared for their upcoming deployment to AFMAO.

 “They don’t go back feeling or acting the same to their units,” said Smith. “For example, the team that is here now came in October, then deployed to us in January. A lot of them still have things fresh in their mind, are able to train well and understand the mission.”

Staff Sgt. Lakeya Spruill who is assigned to Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, agrees having the opportunity to visit AFMAO before her deployment window was beneficial.

 “I went through the course back in October,” said Spruill, AFMAO uniforms NCO in charge. “I feel like the training that they provided us here prepared me for 98 percent of the job I’m performing now while deployed.”

FSCT-M is usually held quarterly. However, since the COVID-19 precautions began last year, class sizes have grown smaller. In the future, AFMAO plans to bring more members in and open this course up for all Total Force Airmen.

“For right now, we have our reserve units come down, and they’re usually the same units that are tasked to deploy,” said Smith. “I believe that our readiness division is in the works of changing that. All components of the Air Force should be able to come here and witness it.”