Researcher, Defenders Bring New Counter-UAS Program to BAF

By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Gonsier, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs / Published July 14, 2017

  

Defenders from the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron and a researcher from the Air Force Research Lab teamed up to bring a new program to Bagram Airfield. To counter the challenges that unmanned aircraft systems pose on the battlefield, the team is training to pilot and use the drones, so enemy tactics can be replicated and used to train coalition forces on how to react to them. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Gonsier)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- As the use of unmanned aircraft systems rises across the world, researchers from around the Department of Defense are testing new ways to counter the new threats they could present.

The 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron teamed up with a researcher from the Air Force Research Lab to teach Airmen how to pilot drones and use them to train coalition forces on how to react to them on the battlefield.

“This is a brand new program for the wing, where we are able to test our counter-UAS systems coming into BAF, in addition to running base-wide exercises,” said 1st. Lieutenant Ryan Wilkerson, a researcher attached to the 455th ESFS.

Wilkerson, who is not a defender by trade, is deployed out of the AFRL, Rome Research Site, New York, and came to the best place to test the program--Bagram--where the challenge is present in real-world scenarios.

A few defenders assisted Wilkerson, serving as drone pilots and using their own down-time to practice piloting and learn tactics the enemy may use.

“It’s exciting to be able to pilot these aircraft for a program no one has ever been a part of before,” said Senior Airman Christopher Gallman, 455th ESFS joint defense operations center. “I can’t wait to see where it is going and to be able to help out the total-force.”

The “pilots” wear aviator sunglasses and have an aura of swagger around them, as they take great pride in being at the forefront of tactical development.

“It’s fun and enjoyable to do, and knowing how beneficial it is to not only the base, but all of the force, makes it worth doing,” Gallman said.

Training never ends, and while service members train to deploy, training still continues while deployed.

“This allows us to be better prepared,” Wilkerson said. “The best way to train is to actually put something in the air and see how people react. We train how we fight, so this is the most efficient way to counter this growing concern amongst coalition partners.”

Tactics used by the enemy are constantly evolving, which is why Airmen are constantly adapting to face news threats head-on, ready to engage anything that comes their way.

SF Career Field Milestone

By CMSgt Tamala Hartz

This summer we are acknowledging a milestone for our career field. It has been 20 years since the former Law Enforcement, Security Specialist and Combat Arms Training and Maintenance career fields merged into what we now know as the Security Forces career field. This was a seismic shift in the way we performed our mission and deserves far more recognition than I can give it here. The magnitude of the merger has been felt every day for those 20 years. It is also interesting to note that every Defender who served during the merger in 1997 is either retired or eligible to retire. As such, this marks the beginning of the end of an era. I do not think it is important to bore you with the logistical and financial benefits of the merger. Rather, I would like to focus on the nuance, the familial mindset, and the long and short term benefits.

 In many ways we ceased to be cousins in 1997 and became brothers and sisters instead. We joined together and began a period of shared experiences, capabilities, and mission focus. Gone were the inter-AFSC rivalries, the AFSC-centric and sometimes parochial management approaches, the competition for resources, the different promotion opportunities and cut-offs, and ceilings on advancement for Combat Arms and MWD Handlers. We stopped being LE, Security, CATM or Handlers, and became DEFENDERS! Certainly we still had some Defenders who performed law enforcement or security centric duties, and we still have Combat Arms instructors and MWD Handlers today. But instead of over-specialized and stove piped capability sets that had to be borrowed from time-to-time, we began to be a shared collective with broadened capabilities and perspective. The common refrains of the past such as “I just want to be a cop” and “You are just a security troop” gave way to “I am not just anything”. We also formed specialized units called Contingency Response Groups which captured all our capabilities into a unit and that expertise has since spread to the rest of the career field.

I often wonder what would have happened to us during Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM had we not transitioned. How could a Law Enforcement Specialist with minimal combat skills training hope to survive in the asymmetric combat environment? How could we have folded a Combat Arms Instructor into a cohesive squad and send him or her outside the wire? How would our over-specialized approach have served our sister services in Iraq and Afghanistan when they needed us most? I believe we would have still accomplished the mission because that is who we are, but the cost would have been greater than it has been.

 In case you have not guessed, I am a fan of the merger. I think it was the right thing to do and it happened at precisely the right time. But this is not a Hollywood love story and I am not in the habit of wearing rose-colored glasses. The transition was painful, comfort levels were challenged in ways few of us could have imagined. Even now I field occasional questions about whether we should separate the career fields again. Interestingly enough, many of those questions come from Defenders who were not serving prior to 1997, some were not even born yet. No doubt they have been told by the Security Police what it used to be like, or have experienced some perceived limitation brought on by the merger. From my experience I can tell you we have temporarily misplaced some specialized skill-sets from time-to-time. I use the word “misplaced” instead of “lost” because no problem has arisen that cannot be solved by training our Defenders. It also took a few years to break the ceiling on promotions for our career Combat Arms and MWD Handlers. Some promotion board scores suffered despite more opportunities because of an understandable lack of breadth of experience. These issues and others are to be expected when you transition from narrower skill-sets to a more broadened approach to mission accomplishment. However, these challenges pale in comparison to the benefits.

Our leaders before the merger were first class to be sure. Security Police senior leaders, led foremost by Brig Gen (Ret) Richard Coleman had the foresight to see that we could be even better and increase our operational effectiveness. These leaders had a vision of how skilled, capable and talented we could become as a collective rather than specialists. I like to think we have all benefited from their leadership and foresight and that we have a shared legacy they can be proud of creating.

I have not even touched on how the merger has changed and enhanced the perception of Security Forces by senior Air Force leaders and the joint community, or how that enhancement has benefited us in the hallways here in the Pentagon, at the bases we defend and in the combat zones across the globe. It is sufficient to say it has made a big difference in our favor.

I will close by reminding our Commanders and Chiefs that we have an opportunity this summer to come together to continue the evolutionary and revolutionary process begun in 1947 and redirected in 1997. Brig Gen Tullos will host a Worldwide Security Forces Conference at Andrews AFB in August. This will be the first Worldwide Conference since 2009 and will be an excellent chance to set the course for another 20 years or more as Defenders. I look forward to seeing you all there.

CMSgt Tammy Hartz

P.S. By the way, in case you were wondering, I was a Security troop.

The DoD Warrior Games, Chicago, IL, 30 June – 8 July 2017
From DoD Warrior Games web site     http://www.dodwarriorgames.com/

The 2017 Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games will be held June 30 – July 8 in Chicago, Ill. Approximately 265 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), as well as the United Kingdom Armed Forces and the Australian Defence Force will participate in the competition.

The Warrior Games exist to provide an opportunity for athletes to grow physically, mentally and spiritually from the sportsmanship and camaraderie gained by representing their respective service teams in a friendly and spirited competition. It is an opportunity for athletes to showcase their enduring warrior spirit in the presence of their families and a grateful nation.

Teams include active-duty service members and veterans with upper-body, lower-body, and spinal cord injuries; traumatic brain injuries; visual impairment; serious illnesses; and post-traumatic stress. They will go head-to-head in archery, cycling, sitting volleyball, shooting, swimming, wheelchair basketball, track and field, engaging in friendly competition and experiencing the healing power of sports.

2017 marks the first year the Warrior Games will be held entirely outside a military installation or a U.S. Olympic Committee facility. Bringing the Warrior Games to Chicago increases public exposure of the event and provides new opportunities to showcase the strength, resilience, and dedication of the participants. With downtown Chicago as the backdrop, the 2017 Games promise to be memorable for the wounded warrior athletes, enjoyable for their caregivers and family members, and inspirational and educational for spectators and other supporters.

The Warrior Games were established in 2010 as a way to enhance the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded warriors and to expose them to adaptive sports. Sponsored by the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, Colo., the inaugural Warrior Games hosted approximately 200 wounded, ill and injured service members. During the following years, the Warrior Games expanded in size and scope.

Defenders on the USAF Team:

 

 
Jamie Biviano, Veteran/Senior Airman
MOS: Security Forces
Hometown: East Syracuse, NY
Events: Archery, Cycling, Field, Shooting, Swimming, Track
“Don’t think that this is the end. We tend to get comfortable in the roles that we made for ourselves, without thinking of the what ifs. None of what we are going through right now was ever planned, but that doesn’t mean we can’t thrive with the cards that were dealt.”

 
Matt Cable, Staff Sergeant
MOS: Security Forces
Hometown: Great Falls, MT
Events: Field, Track
“Seeing individuals who go through tragic events and find the strength to keep fighting and pushing through each and every day is what keeps me pushing and fighting each day.”

 
Vincent Cavazos, Staff Sergeant
MOS: Security Forces
Hometown: Fresno, CA
Events: Archery, Field, Swimming, Track
“Know that even though it may seem like no one understands you or what you are going through there are people in the program that can help you find whatever it is to help bring you happiness and peace in your heart again.”

 
Michael Christiansen, Technical Sergeant
MOS: Security Forces
Hometown: Layton, UT
Events: Archery, Shooting
“Only you hold yourself back. Find your own motivation/what drives you and press the gas pedal. When it gets tough and it hurts and you want to quit, give it 10% more.” 
 

 
Larry O’Neil, Jr., Technical Sergeant
MOS: Security Forces
Hometown: Miami, FL
Events: Field, Sitting Volleyball
"One small crack does not mean that you are broken, it means that you were put to the test and you didn't fall apart."

 
Benjamin G. Seekell, Technical Sergeant
MOS: Security Forces
Hometown: Charlestown, RI
Events: Cycling, Field, Track, Wheelchair Basketball
“There are two choices for those who face adversity: Be defined by your adversity, or be defined by how you overcome it.”

 
Brian Williams, Master Sergeant
MOS: Security Forces
Hometown: Sierra Vista, AZ
Events: Cycling, Sitting Volleyball, Wheelchair Basketball
“Remember where you come from, when you have the opportunity to help and mentor do it. As soon as you feel as though you are too good to do those things, you have forgotten, and might be in the wrong venue; don’t forget.”

  
Terrance Williams, Technical Sergeant
MOS: Security Forces Defender
Hometown: Kankakee, IL
Events: Sitting Volleyball, Track, Wheelchair Basketball
“Try everything, don't quite. You might find that the sports you thought you could no longer do are there for you and only need you to adapt a little bit.”

2017 AFSFA National Meeting Update

If you have never attended an AFSFA National Meeting this summary article about our upcoming 2017 National Meeting will give you a flavor for what to expect in Washington D.C. late this August. Keep in mind, every meeting and location has unique and varied attractions and the banquet will often take on a regional flare highlighting those very differences.

First – registration packets went out 5 July to all current AFSFA members. Look from them in your mailbox any day now.

Second – you can already make your room reservations and have been able to since late May. Here are the dates, contact information and the link to the hotel reservation site:

31st National Meeting 24-27 Aug 2017

Westin Crystal City, 1800 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA 22202

Reservations: (888) 627-8209 or

http://goo.gl/yIg0Iz

You MUST use group name: 2017AFSFA.

Room block is for dates August 23 - August 28 only. There are a LIMITED numbers of rooms available outside these dates (3 days before and after at the same rate). To book outside of these dates, please contact Ashley Foster at 703-769-3940. Room rates are: $129 per night for single occupancy and $139 for double occupancy which includes a full hot breakfast each morning.

General Meeting Summary:

Thursday:

- Morning golf tournament at Joint Base Andrews golf course.

- Morning three professional Security/Law Enforcement training sessions in the hotel for continuing education credits and free to all AFSFA members.

- Afternoon/Evening -- members will start picking up their registration packets in the hotel lobby at 1600 and the Meet and Greet Social will start at 1800.

Friday:

- Morning General Membership Meeting from 0800 to noonish.

- Noonish depart hotel by bus to Joint Base Andrews for lunch and to meet Defenders and receive unit briefings and witness SF demonstrations.

- Friday evening dinner on your own but there is an evening Washington DC monuments bus tour at 1930 hours.

Saturday:

- Morning General Membership Meeting from 0800 to noonish.

- Afternoon open but there is a US Capitol tour available.

- National Meeting Banquet social hour starts at 1800 with dinner at 1900.

Sunday:

- Morning Fallen Defender remembrance ceremony. This is the last official event.

Throughout most of the weekend the hospitality room in the hotel is open for all to relax in and enjoy. The AFSFA Country Store and most of the chapters will have lots of memorabilia for sale. 

Hope to see all of you there!

Reserve Defenders Keep Watch

By Maj. Jon Quinlan, 507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs, Published April 24, 2017

 

 

Senior Airman Micheal Thomas, 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group security forces member, provides armed overwatch for contractors and air advisors performing maintenance on an Afghan Air Force MD-530 Light Attack Helicopter, April 16, 2017, at Kandahar Air Wing, Afghanistan. Thomas is deployed with other Citizen Airmen from the 507th Security Forces Squadron, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Katherine Spessa)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- A group of Citizen Airmen from the 507th Security Forces Squadron here deployed March 31 to Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan, to support the Afghan Air Force in their fight against insurgents in support of NATO’s Resolute Support mission.  

For the next six months, the team of Reserve defenders will be part of a Fly Away Security Team while in Afghanistan. Air Force FAST teams are made up of Security Forces Airmen who travel with aircraft to provide extra security around unsecured foreign airfields.

As a civilian, Senior Airman Casey Jardot of the 507th SFS is a research technician at an oil and gas company. This is his second deployment. He left the Marine Corps to join the Air Force Reserve, and said he is excited to go downrange to perform a vital security mission.  

“It’s important because we are there to show a presence of force and relieve active duty,” Jardot said. “We do so much as Reservists. We’ve got to go to the fight.”

Part of the fight is protecting personnel, multi-million dollar aircraft and sensitive equipment. When air missions depart, security forces travel with the aircraft to protect the mission and provide full security overwatch at forward operating bases.

The defenders also provide security for air advisors while training and advising Afghan security forces at Kandahar Air Base.

According to the 507th SFS unit deployment manager, Tech. Sgt. Kathelene Mercado, the Airmen trained for several months in preparation for this deployment. As Reservists with civilian careers and families, time management and prioritization of training are key elements in preparation for deployments.  

“This mission still exists. The threat is still real,” Mercado said. “We sent out a well-trained team to accomplish the mission.”

The commander of the 507th SFS, Maj. Richard Martin II, said farewell to both groups as they departed Oklahoma City, stating that he would go anywhere at any time with his deploying team.

“They sacrifice a great deal,” Martin said. “It never ceases to amaze me as long as I’ve been doing this job. I watch mothers and fathers hand over their infants and toddlers to go do something they feel very strongly about. That sacrifice they make for the greater good is tremendous.”

Fellow defenders from the 507th SFS joined the Airmen at the airport to show their support and to bid them farewell. When Jardot and his team boarded the plane, he said even though he felt sad to leave his family, he felt anxious to support the mission.

“My hopes are to execute my job to the best of my ability, deliver the commander’s intent, watch my brothers’ backs and come home safe,” he said.

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Join Us.

31st National Meeting
24-27 Aug 2017
Washington D.C.
Westin Crystal City
1800 Jefferson Davis
Arlington, VA 22202
Reservations:
(888) 627-8209 or
http://goo.gl/yIg0Iz

You MUST use group
name: 2017AFSFA

Visit DC Tourism Site:

http://washington.org/

Tet Rememberance Ceremony
50th Anniversary of the Tet Offensive
30-31 January 2018
Lackland AFB TX
SF Academy is the host
Points of Contact:
Catherine Jeffryes
     (210) 671-2184
MSgt J Saunders
     (210) 671-5133

32nd National Meeting
Sacramento, CA
22-25 Aug 2018
Visitors Bureau
http://goo.gl/AR9xyS
Fall 2018

33rd National Meeting
San Antonio, TX
Fall 2019