What We Hold Sacred

By BGen Andrea Tullos

This year’s annual gathering was a great time to celebrate our 20th Anniversary as “Defenders” and to reflect on our heritage. When Chief Hartz and I visit our Defenders in the field, they are proud to show us what’s “new” and “innovative,” and they should be.   Many of these things speak to how we deliver our capabilities, not necessarily what we deliver as the Air Force’s ground force. What Chief Hartz and I always circle back on are those things that really have not changed much since we became a separate Service in 1947, and that we have a responsibility to preserve across the generations of Air Force Security Forces. We’re talking about what we hold sacred; those distinctive activities or characteristics that separate us from every other Air Force Specialty Code—what makes us Defenders.   Things that every single Airman who has ever worn the badge and beret, whether they were Air Police, Security Police, Security Forces, or “Defenders” would recognize with a smile, a nod, a story, a “huah,” or perhaps a more colorful phrase. The list is not finite and I present it in no priority order, but here are a few things Chief Hartz and I agree we hold sacred, and should continue to do so, if we are to uphold our proud legacy as Defenders.

Guardmount. The words “fall in” should hold special meaning for all of us, and I don’t care how large or how small your flight is or was, guardmount is fundamental to what we do and who we are. It’s when your leadership looks you square in the eye and ensures you are fit for duty. It’s where we deliver the pass-ons, the daily task orders, the weapons, vehicle, and ground safety briefing, and conduct some quick refresher training. We start our day with a military formation, an inspection, and an opportunity to take stock of each other and the tasks before us. Without guardmount, we would not have the dreaded radio call – “remount.” Some of you are cringing just to read those words – I join you. I don’t care what MAJCOM you are in, how you execute your base defense mission, your shift schedule, or what you believe makes your unit “different” – if your flights aren’t conducting guardmount, I don’t believe your Defenders are developing a full appreciation for what we must hold sacred.       

Small arms expertise. I’m not just talking about our Combat Arms specialists.   I’m talking to every Defender of every rank and skill level. We are the only Airmen who bear arms every day not merely to train, but to conduct the operations associated with our integrated defense mission. While we welcome the support of those who consistently partner with us – maintainers, engineers, AFOSI, and the occasional base augmentee—we should never compromise on our weapons training standards, our efforts to gain and maintain proficiency in our primary weapons, and our basic knowledge of how to employ every lethal weapon in our inventory. We have been forced to make difficult decisions over the past two decades of under-resourcing, and we are committed to restoring all the resources our Commanders, Readiness Training Centers, and our school house need to ensure that we will never compromise when it comes to ensuring our Defenders are fully qualified, have the proper foundational training to develop proficiency, and are confident in their ability to effectively employ their weapons. The same holds true for how we train and prepare our Combat Arms instructors – there will be no compromise. We ask our Defenders to employ deadly force when necessary, and our highest training priority must be to take every possible step to prepare them to respond effectively and appropriately should those circumstances arise.

We are an all-weather, day/night force. When the installation commander issues the order “mission essential personnel only report for duty” is there ever a question in our minds? Does it matter whether it’s snow, a hurricane, lightning within five miles, a major power or communication outage, or the threat of an attack? Not for us – the Air Force and our joint and coalition partners count on us to be there. We take what precautions we can, and we Defender on. There’s no such thing as too cold or too hot and I tell every Commander, Chief, and leader I come across of any rank – don’t you dare tell me your mission failed because your comm went out – re-learn the art of sending a runner. The enemy doesn’t care that the server is down and your cell phone is not “C2.” We have better night vision capabilities than ever. Our day shift should be just as proficient with those systems as our night shift, and our night shift should be just as capable of managing the daily task orders on day shift. If this makes you think for a minute that it may not be true in your unit, then do something about it. When power goes out and comms go down, we should smile, because when some other units on the base are at a standstill, we should be at a tactical advantage.  

Dress and appearance. This is not just about getting on someone for how they wear their beret. This goes back to Flight Chiefs giving someone an EFD for the best shine on their boots and creases in their uniform at guardmount. This is about every higher headquarters wanting their Defenders to wear ascots with their MAJCOM patch to give their visitors a first impression reminiscent of a recruiting poster. It’s why the current Commander of the Air Force Honor Guard is a Defender, as has been the case multiple times in the past, and why the Air Force Honor Guard itself is littered with Defenders. It’s why every Wing Command Chief wants their Base Honor Guard to have a Defender as NCOIC. We pride ourselves on our dress and appearance, and we should. We are every Wing Commander’s Ambassadors at the entry control points – the face of the Air Force to the public. At the same time it says “we know how to properly wear a uniform” it also says – “don’t mess with us, we have our act together.”

Post briefings. I challenge you to find a credible source (documentation, not oral history) of where the Security Forces post briefing originated. Some say it goes back to the Roman legions, when Commanders conducted what we now call battlefield circulation and they came upon a sentry at a remote outpost. Some say they started with the pickets soldiers set up in the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, or in medieval times when knights stood guard at their Lord’s castle. Like most things unattributed in our Air Force, let’s just say General Curtis LeMay gave the order and call it good. Regardless of where you think the post briefing came from, it’s ours. We own it, no one else. And today, I could argue (and I do) it serves as useful a purpose as ever. Today’s generation of text messaging, snap-chatting, cyber savvy Airmen are more comfortable on line than in person. De-escalation at the scene of a domestic, in a visitor’s center, or while making an unwanted traffic stop (is there any other kind?) can’t effectively be done via instant message. We need Defenders who can confidently state who they are, what their mission is, and the means they have to get it done while under some level of pressure.   If they can deliver a basic post briefing, my level of confidence in their ability to win a round of verbal judo rises. Vomit on their boots then struggle to get their name out and I’m worried. Airmen first to master the post briefing are likely good candidates for ratello. There are reasons behind why we give post briefings, and those reasons are not just important to what we do, but to who we are.

I could go on, but that would take away from tomorrow’s discussion around the water cooler. We want to know what you think we need to hold sacred – send your thoughts.

Air Force’s Surprise JLTV Buy in FY18 Could Be Start of Larger Procurement Effort

By: Valerie Insinna, Defense News, 4 August 2017

A Humvee, left, and a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle stand on display for size comparison at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., on May 2, 2017. Senior leaders from U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command test drove the vehicle through one of Fort Eustis’ training areas to experience the new suspension and overall feel of the vehicle. (Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland/U.S. Air Force)

Service wants to replace 3,270-vehicle Humvee inventory

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force has quietly inserted itself into the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program with a request of 140 units in fiscal 2018, but the service is poised to buy hundreds — and perhaps even thousands — more vehicles if it can find the funding in future years.

Although budget documents show no further procurement planned for FY19 through FY22, the Air Force does not intend to see its JLTV acquisition end in FY18. The service wants to replace its entire 3,270-unit Humvee inventory, although the details are fuzzy on how much of the fleet can be recapitalized and when, Air Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews wrote in response to emailed questions from Defense News.

“We would like to eventually phase out the entire High Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicles fleet with the newer vehicles,” she said, using an alternative name for the Humvee. “We are still formalizing our fleet management strategy of when we will acquire all of our hoped-for new vehicles and to what units they will go and in what order.”

The JLTV program was spearheaded by the Army and Marine Corps, which plan to buy a whopping 49,099 and 5,500 vehicles, respectively. The selection of Oshkosh as the JLTV manufacturer in 2015 was made with much fanfare, as the contract is the services’ largest vehicle program in decades.

In contrast, the Air Force’s decision to enter the program played out almost entirely behind the scenes. This January, Defense News broke the story that service officials were interested in purchasing the JLTV for security personnel that defend its missile launch facilities — although McAndrews stated that the service began looking for alternatives to replace the Humvee in 2012.

Air Force representatives had even traveled to Marine Corps Base Quantico last December for demonstrations and briefings before posting a request for information on tactical vehicles later that month.

“We ascertained the JLTV was the best fit for us because we rely on the expertise of the Army and Marines when it comes to acquiring tactical vehicles,” McAndrews explained, adding that the service did not conduct any independent testing.

The Air Force then requested $52.5 million in FY18 to procure 140 JLTVs. Of that sum, it plans to buy 46 utility variants (a two-seat version with a wide bed like a pickup truck); 48 general-purpose variants, which are the standard four-seat version; and 46 heavy-gun carrier variants, which have space for a gunner.

Those vehicles will be operated by Air Force security forces, explosive ordnance disposal teams, pararescue and personnel recovery units, tactical air control party teams, and special tactics forces, McAndrews stated.

The Air Force plans to begin fielding the JLTV in FY19, when full-rate production begins. Oshkosh spokeswoman Alexandra Hittle told Defense News that the company has the capability to meet the Air Force’s emerging demand, as well as that of the Army and Marine Corps.

“Additional buys will not affect USMC and Army deliveries,” she said. “Oshkosh stands ready to produce JLTVs for all services to ensure all of our troops receive the next-generation equipment they need to successfully complete their missions.”

Although the Air Force operates fewer Humvees than the Army and Marine Corps, its vehicles are experiencing similar problems in terms of performance and maintainability. The average age of the fleet is 10 years old, and users have commented on the Humvee’s lack of power and agility as more and more armor has been loaded onto the vehicles, McAndrews explained.

A few specific maintenance problems have also cropped up, particularly with vehicles operated in the hot temperatures of the Middle East.

“The biggest challenge with the HMMWV fleet is the injector pumps for vehicles in the Central Command area of responsibility, which require more frequent replacement due to the environment and operating them in high temperatures for long periods of time,” McAndrews stated. “A secondary issue is the braking system for up-armored vehicles. The added weight from the up-armor puts added strain on the brake pad, again necessitating more frequent maintenance.”

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.

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


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:


- 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.


- 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.


- 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.


- 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!

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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

2018 BoD Mid-Year Meeting
24 March 2018
San Antonio, TX

32nd National Meeting
Sacramento, CA
22-25 Aug 2018
Visitors Bureau
Fall 2018

33rd National Meeting
San Antonio, TX
Fall 2019