What We Hold Sacred Part 2

By BGen Andrea D. Tullos


It’s been nearly two years since I wrote about “What We Hold Sacred” as Defenders. Since that time we’ve been busy reconstituting our forces, reflecting on what the new National Defense Strategy demands of us, and reconnecting with our heritage. We’ve had tremendous support from our Air Force leadership who inspire us every day to enhance our capabilities as leaders of the Air Force’s ground combat forces and who have invested in getting us more ready and lethal in ways I’ve not previously experienced in my time in uniform. We’re three years into our effort to reset our foundation. Recently, Chief Hartz and I got to bring together over 350 Defenders – Squadron Commanders, Chiefs, and Colonels – at our Worldwide Symposium to take stock of where we are, discuss what’s coming next, and revisit what we hold sacred in light of what we’ve learned about ourselves over the past few years. AFSFA has been a partner with us throughout the journey, helping us bring back Defender Challenge, connecting us with our veterans and retirees who shared lessons learned on the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive, and tapping your feet and your keyboards to share your enthusiasm for our new hip-hop video and song “Get in Step.” I want to share some insights into the now expanded list, level the understanding of “What We Hold Sacred,” and ask that you continue to debate who we are, what makes us who we are, and what we must never let go.

If you refer back to that August 2017 article, you will see that we presented attributes of our defense forces that today’s Defenders and Air Police of 1947 would recognize – guardmount, small arms expertise, day-night/all-weather force, dress and appearance, and post briefings. We had some lively debates about why this is true, what this means for us day-to-day, and whether much has changed over the decades. We all agreed that technology has evolved, but the Defender employing all that technology has amazingly consistent DNA. The conversation really turned to what we wanted to bring into the discussion; there is more to be held sacred.

The first and foremost addition to the discussion is the beret. Seems so obvious. We identify each other and ourselves by the blue beret. We earn it, are privileged to wear it, and when someone discredits it, we take it away. We wear it with pride and teaching a new Defender the process of shaping, shaving, sculpting, and perfecting the wear is a ritual we embrace as part of our duties to train our newcomers. For those who wear the beret, seeing another Airman in the beret is like seeing family, a member of our tribe. It means you are one of us. When the public sees our beret, it is a symbol of trust, safety, and security. We are the visible embodiment of “our nation’s sword and shield…its sentry and avenger.” We must always hold that trust sacred.

Many young Defenders don’t know our beret crest was used to identify the Major Command to which you were assigned. When the Defensor Fortis flash replaced the command crest, we became not only “Strong Defenders” as the Latin translates, but “Defenders of the Force,” a force unified that protects all, with a nod to the Air Force’s 1041st Security Police Squadron (T) and Operation SAFESIDE’s heritage patch as reflected in the enlisted flash. Uniforms will come and go while the beret will remain. We wear Kevlar helmets out of necessity. During those times, the beret is guardedly set aside where it will remain “on watch” for that moment when routine operations, good order and discipline are restored and we may return it to its rightful place.

Speaking of good order and discipline – we returned many times to our Security Forces General Orders during the past few years. Perhaps your first lesson from technical training echoes in your mind – “I will take charge of my post…” As the youngest, newest Defender, you are expected to be a leader, regardless of circumstance…”I will report all violations of orders…” On the calmest, sunniest day, just when you thought time could not slow any further and that you might really die of boredom, “I will sound the alarm…” Our general orders are as relevant today as they were in 1947. Never before in my years have I participated in as many conversations with other flag officers, most not Defenders, on how our National Defense Strategy demands “mission command” – the ability of our most junior Airmen to understand Commander’s intent and act in the absence of leadership direction, in the fog of war, perhaps in the absence of communications capabilities. We train our Defenders to do that from Day 1. Our general orders are the essence of mission command. We must hold them sacred.

The next one will make you scratch your head. Then it will hurt. I promise the veterans and retirees I’m not making this up. I added “chow” to the list out of frustration for what I believe we (the Air Force writ large) let go and what I believe Defenders, if not the entire Air Force, need to take back. Chow. You read that correctly. Chow. It’s an affectionate term. Breaking bread with one or more Defenders. Getting in out of the hot or cold. Getting off post and getting a load off your feet. It’s a lost art. This is not simply because I cringe when I see a Defender eating on post or when I drive through an entry control point and smell french fries. This is because chow is leaders taking care of their team. Chow is supervisors engaging with subordinates. Chow is where you hear what’s going on in your Airman’s life. It’s where you figure out where they are really from; how it’s possible that they put ketchup on their scrambled eggs, mayo on their french fries, and Texas Pete’s on everything else. It begins the debate over whether yeast donuts are better than cake, beans belong in chili, whether corn is a vegetable, and all those other great debates that generally result in cold silence until turn in. It doesn’t have to happen at the DFAC but it should. At a table of our own. With a weapons rack to the side and with a Defender sitting at the table in a “Use of Force” posture that says “sit at your own risk” while the rest of the team goes through the line. We have flight chiefs who truly have no idea how to conduct chow relief because they never had to do so. They are not even sure what we’re asking. That’s not a critique – it’s a fact. We need to bring it back. I don’t care if our Defenders eat at the squadron, at the fire station (now there’s a thought), at a day room in the dormitory, or in a heritage room (now you’re talking), but they deserve 20 minutes off post to break bread with another Airman, get off their feet, and out of the elements. Chow is a cherished ritual we should not have let go. I believe we did. Time to take it back. The second most dreaded thing to hear over the radio after “remount” used to be “call in your box lunch order.” Clearly, some Airman did something so heinous that the Flight Chief suspended chow relief. You did not want to be that Airman. We need to figure this out. May the Chaplain help whoever says we don’t have enough manpower to do chow relief. This is my charge; hold it sacred, and bring it back for our Defenders.

May the debate over what we hold sacred continue and may it never end. I learn something from our Defenders every day, whether in uniform or civilian, active, guard, or reserve, and whether they are veterans, retired, or still serve. I consider myself a lifelong learner, so keep it coming. You are making all 38,000 of us better, every day.



This position is responsible for providing training to our Law Enforcement, Government, Military and International customer base. The MILO Instructor position is a very diverse position, and will be responsible for training our customers on the use of our Use-of-Force simulator. The instructor is autonomous and is often out on a training site or service location with no direct support and must be prepared to adapt to overcome any situation, successfully.


Primary Responsibilities:

  • Learn the operation of several simulators on multiple OS platforms
  • Work effectively, as part of a team, with a positive attitude
  • Travel to different job sites, both foreign and domestic
  • Conducting multi-day instruction to our customer base
  • Perform QA on specific vendor parts
  • Provide on the phone support to our customer base
  • Service and update computer equipment from 2000-present
  • On-site computer repair and depot
  • Writing of technical manuals

Secondary Responsibilities:

  • Must be proficient in all Windows environments
  • Must be able to adapt to different end-users
  • Must have firm understanding of mechanical assembly, electronics, computer networks and computer assembly
  • Responsible for creating and updating core curriculum
  • Must have excellent written and verbal communication skills


  • Must have 2-5 years’ experience in field
  • Must have significant computer experience
  • 2+ years of experience in training
  • Must be willing to travel 50-75%
  • Must be willing to travel internationally
  • Must be able to qualify for US Passport
  • Having prior law enforcement or military experience, a plus
  • Experience with weapons, a plus
  • Must be a motivated self-starter

Documentation Required:

  • DD-214, if claiming military experience
  • College degree, if claiming education from an accredited university
  • Certification from a law enforcement academy, if claiming experience

Hiring Process: Throughout the hiring process, the potential candidate will be tested on their Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA’s) relevant to the job.

Job Post: 201921

Equal Opportunity Employer/Disabled/Veterans

Contact John Jones at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Ryan Schatzberg at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Hardware, Software, Training Reshaped as Part of ‘Year of the Defender’ Initiative

By Nick DeCicco, 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs, Travis AFB, CA, 19 June 2019

The Air Force has undertaken a comprehensive effort to revitalize and reconfigure its security forces squadrons during the past year with the Reconstitute Defender Initiative.


Airman 1st Class Christopher Shaffer, 60th Security Forces Squadron installation patrolman, clears his M4 rifle June 18, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. Security forces Airmen like Shaffer are responsible for protecting resources and personnel for the Air Force’s largest air mobility wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman)


Travis Air Force Base is no exception. The initial push is 2019's "Year of the Defender," something Master Sgt. Joshua Wells, 60th Security Forces Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of operations, said aims to adapt, update and evolve the unit's approach on many fronts, from the digital realm to Airmen's practical, day-to-day mission.

"It's meeting a need that the Air Force has in our career field to revive development for our people," Wells said. "They're taking the initiative here on the ground to foresee the needs that are being directed from up top."

Air Force leadership has identified eight areas of focus: Human capital, competent/lethal defenders, improved policy, modern equipment, modern weapons, improved facilities, improved infrastructure and integrated technology.

"We must always take integrated and layered base defense to a new level by increasing investment in our defenders with new equipment, new training, new tactics, techniques and procedures, and renewed focus at every echelon of command," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. "This is the Year of the Defender because we don’t project power without the network of bases and infrastructure needed to execute multi-domain operations."

What that means on the ground at Travis AFB is a bevy of changes, including modernizing tactics and training. One example is the discontinuation of career development courses in favor of on-the-job training. Wells said CDCs felt more like homework and prepared Airmen to answer a question in a book, but didn't necessarily deliver the practical knowledge needed to accomplish the mission.

"Now these guys have to sit in a car or out on a post or after shift or before shift with their troop, look at the training outline, go through the objectives, evaluate them and then document that they did it," Wells said. "Our career field requires you to talk with other people. You can't be great at a book and not be great with people in our career field and be successful."

Changing, too, is the content as well as the intervals of training courses. Pre-deployment training previously packaged all ranks into one training session each time they prepared to depart. Now, Wells said, enlisted Airmen are grouped by rank into one of four tiers for a training session at Fort Bliss, Texas, that certifies each Airman for a four-year period.

Wells said the demands of the mission, which sent many defenders to deployed locations on a regular basis, created gaps in the training and experience needed to deploy.

"Some of our law enforcement training and resources were falling by the wayside," he said. "They had to balance that out and I think that one of the initiatives here is to find that healthy balance to make us a lethal and diverse career field."

Other changes come in the digital realm. Booking stations and, specifically, the processing of fingerprints were overhauled. Gone for fingerprinting is a system that relied on ink on cards sent through the mail to a central location for processing. In its place is a digital scanner that electronically submits data straight to an FBI database.

"It's a huge improvement in how we do law enforcement and how we do criminal case reporting," Wells said.

Travis AFB is also a beta-test site for new case-management software, which seeks to improve the flow of incident reporting and the sharing of information between bases and agencies.

Year of the Defender initiatives are not confined to software and training, however. An Air Force-wide initiative involves new standard duty weapons, replacing the M9 Beretta, a 9 mm pistol, with the M18 SIG Sauer Modular Handgun System. All security forces units are expected to receive their full complement of M18s by 2020.

Wells said, that although the year of the defender and RDI are specific to security forces, they're part of a larger picture when it comes to the mission of the base and the service.

"We're the subject-matter experts because we do defense all day, every day," he said. "But when we get those other people in there, they have some fundamentals that we can apply to the overall defense plan … every Airman is a defender, essentially."

11th Security Forces Group Defenders Support National Law Enforcement Memorial Candlelight Vigil

By Joseph L. Rector

On 13 May 2019, members of the 11th Security Forces Group and the National Capital Region – Maryland Chapter, represented the Air Force as part of the Honor Cordon for the arrival of the family members of those fallen police officers being memorialized. Master Sergeant Jeremy Graves, Master Sergeant Samuel Warren and Staff Sergeant Darius Jones-McGee participated as part of the honor cordon and Technical Sergeant Rachael Webb attended to document the Vigil. Two fallen Air Force Defenders were memorialized on the National Law Enforcement Memorial this year: Captain George E. Morris and SSgt Todd “TJ” Lobraico, Jr.

Captain Morris served as the Kirtland Air Force Base Provost Marshal. He was killed on the morning of 3 April 1956 when he responded to a flightline emergency. The right tire of a RB66 reconnaissance bomber, which had just landed, was on fire and suddenly exploded. Captain Morris was about 30 feet away and was hit and killed by debris from the wheel assembly.

Staff Sergeant Lobraico was killed on 5 September 2013 in Afghanistan. According to his Bronze Star with Valor Medal Citation, “Sergeant Lobraico volunteered to establish a listening and observation post eight miles outside the Bagram Airfield perimeter in order to deter enemy mortar and rocket attacks. Lobraico took the point position on the mission, scouting ahead and providing security for his fire team. While moving he discovered an insurgent force which was in the process of setting up to ambush his fire team with rocket propelled grenades, small arms, and an improvised explosive device. With total disregard for his own safety, he placed himself directly between his fire team and the insurgents who unleashed a hellish barrage of rocket, grenade, and small arms fire. Sergeant Lobraico took immediate and decisive actions while braving this intense enemy fire, and was mortally wounded while directing the maneuver of his fire team to covered positions from which they could effectively defend themselves and return fire on the enemy positions. His actions were instrumental in gaining fire superiority and the survival of his team."

While attending the Vigil, the 11 SFG team was able to link up with a large contingent from the 105th Base Defense Squadron from the New York Air National Guard to include Senior Master Sergeant Todd Lobraico, father of Staff Sergeant Todd Lobraico, Jr.

This Candlelight Vigil was the 31th year the event has been held to honor fallen law enforcement officers. Dedicated in 1991, the Law Enforcement Memorial now contains 21,910 names, 371 which were added this year. For more on the National Law Enforcement Fund and the Memorial, check out the website at https://nleomf.org/


From left to right: Technical Sergeant Rachel Ward, Master Sergeant Samuel Warren, Senior Master Sergeant Todd Lobraico father of Staff Sergeant Todd Lobraico, Jr., Master Sergeant Jeremy Graves and Staff Sergeant Darius Jones-McGee (Photo by Deputy Alejandra Warren, Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office) 






Staff Sergeant Darius Jones-McGee, Master Sergeant Samuel Warren and Master Sergeant Jeremy Graves march into position as part of the Honor Cordon. (Photo by Technical Sergeant Rachael Webb, 11th Security Forces Group)



Get Ready for the 2019 Chapter of the Year Competition

ATTENTION, CHAPTER CHAIRS: The deadline for submitting your Chapter of the Year package to the San Antonio headquarters is rapidly approaching. The submission deadline is 30 July 2019 and the nomination forms are online at the AFSFA web site "Members", then "Members Documents" then "AFSFA Chapter Recognition Program." All of the rules and processes remain in place from the 2019 competition. The AFSFA vice president and regional directors will use the posted point scoring system for judging. The board of directors will validate the scores in time for the awards ceremony at the banquet. As with last year, we know from reading your minutes there are nearly 40 chapters doing great work that needs to be recognized – we invite you to “take-on” the reigning champion, the National Capital Region - Maryland Chapter, and the 2018 runner-up, the Billie Renfroe Chapter!

For more information review the policy letter at:  http://afsfaonline.com/index.php/members/member-documents/120-afsfa-chapter-recognition-policy-statement

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33rd National Meeting
San Antonio, TX
25-29 September 2019
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34th National Meeting
Dayton, OH
23-27 September 2020