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Vandenberg confidence course closed to all personnel

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- All Air Force obstacle courses were closed by an Air Force chief of staff memorandum as a positive and immediate step toward guaranteeing safety for Airmen who would use them while training.

To secure Vandenberg's confidence course and prevent unauthorized access, 30th Space Wing's Ground Safety office and the 30th Security Forces Squadron performed an operational risk assessment. They identified dangerous obstacles and rendered them unusable.

Although not all of the obstacles in the course have been rendered useless, the obstacle course area remains off-limits. Airmen caught on the course could be charged with Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Disobeying a Direct Order. Civilians could be arrested for trespassing.

Rendering the more dangerous obstacles useless is a more guaranteed and less expensive alternative to building a fence around the course, said Bryan Eiler, safety specialist with 30th SW Ground Safety.

Air Force obstacle courses will remain closed until review and approval of plans to re-open them.

"Obstacle and confidence courses play a role in developing Airmen warriors, but we will not reopen them until we get it right," stated Gen. T. Michael Mosely, Air Force Chief of Staff, in the memorandum.

An Air Force pilot assigned to Moody Air Force Base, Ga., died Dec. 1, 2006, from injuries sustained while training on the base's obstacle course.

Future plans include Air Force-wide standardization of courses, including course design and configuration, instructional courses and a new Air Force Instruction. Ground Safety is developing a program to submit to Air Force Space Command for future goals of Vandenberg's confidence course.