ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. —The Defenders’ Praetorium, a fitting name for the new virtual training facility at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. Its debut was the main focus of the latest Robins Proud Forum held Oct. 27.

“We are the praetorians, and we are also called the Defenders,” said Maj. Joshua Webb, 78th Security Forces Squadron commander. “Being a Defender, this is one of the best training facilities I have been in in my entire career. That’s because of the new technology being used.”

Praetorians were an elite unit of bodyguards for a Roman general, and praetorium means headquarters.

“This is an important moment in our Integrated Base Defense Campaign,” said Moore. “It is imperative we continue to bolster defense around the base, improve training for our Defenders and that happens with resources like this facility.”

The 16,000 square foot space served as the Base Exchange in the mid-1990s.

“By renovating and outfitting this facility, we can train the large number of Defenders we have to increase preparedness, increase lethality, and overall provide better defense for Robins Air Force Base,” Webb said.

Squadron leaders believe this training facility will help keep everyone mission ready.

“Security forces is a 24/7 operation,” said Tech. Sgt. Adriana Arscott, 78th SFS non-commissioned officer-in-charge of training. “We have to stay prepared and a way to do that is through virtual training and learning. The program simulates the installation’s buildings and various locations. It allows for the Defenders to practice their tactical skills along with learning how to deescalate situations.”

Also, inside the facility are traditional classrooms with desks and whiteboards for instruction and a large walled off section covered with mats on the floor and walls for hand-to-hand combat training.

Arscott added, “The Defenders Praetorium is just the beginning. We are just getting started, I am looking forward to see where we take this.”

The building still has additional space for future expansions.

“Although the Defenders did all of this work, this installation training facility is going to expand. It will provide opportunities for other units to do digital training and virtual reality training that different units need on the installation,” said Moore.

Though the future of security forces and base defense is important, so is the past.

A staple of the Robins Proud forums is honoring Gold Star Families and remembering their loved ones killed in action.

Moore spotlighted Senior Airman Kcey Ruiz who died Oct. 2, 2015, while serving during Operation Freedom.

“Ruiz was a Defender who was deployed to Jalalabad, Afghanistan. She and six other teammates onboard a C-130 aircraft crashed on take-off coming out of Jalalabad,” said Moore. “We are honored that she was a part of our base family.”

Ruiz was 21 years old.

Moore added, “She was a tremendous Airman with a contagious smile who gave her last full measure of devotion, and we are never going to forget.”