Critical Thinking in an Ever-Changing Environment: How Security Forces uses Weapons & Tactics

By SMSgt Patrick Meade, AFSOC/A4I

Geo-political threats posed by China, Russia, authoritarian states, and an ongoing technological revolution are reshaping every aspect of how Security Forces defends the base. This is a time of unprecedented challenges and unmatched opportunity.

Innovation, relentless decentralization of execution, and empowerment of our junior officers and enlisted will allow Defenders to move fast while executing the mission. Thus, Security Forces is providing agility to the warfighter by streamlining unique problem sets associated with tactical, operational, and strategic level quandaries.

Critical thinking skills are a force multiplier that will be used to shape our future. The ability to identify, develop, and implement extraordinary solutions impacts mission effectiveness. The Total Force innovates and accelerates change to ensure Air Base Ground Defense. 

Our strength as a force increases when we recognize that we fall to the level of our knowledge and training. Defenders require more repetitions on dynamic and challenging training scenarios to produce and wield lethal Defenders capable of effectively defending the base in any environment or situation.

“Defenders must continue receiving world-class training that outpaces our adversaries. This is only achieved through repetition and a culture of continuous improvement,” said Brig. Gen. Roy Collins, Director of Security Forces. “We will continue to look at our policies, procedures, and readiness. Together we will organize, train, and equip to ensure all Defenders remain proficient.”

Challenges arise when seeking problems at the surface level without looking for greater clarity and conducting problem analysis.  

Furthermore, some Defenders have a deep interest in particular subjects and a desire to contribute and innovate to the intellectual advancements of the profession of arms, but lack a defined avenue or medium to transform those ideas into valuable enterprise solutions.

The Barksdale Air Force Base Weapons & Tactics Shop recently implemented a decision-making process to transform ideas into solutions and enhance installation security. They exploited a unique opportunity to rapidly innovate the installation security with the pivotal shift in day-to-day security posture. They understood the change in ideology from "inside out" to "outside inward," protecting the base and reprioritizing resource protection.

An initial test phase was conducted to capture compliance-based security standards' current effectiveness. Subsequent follow-up test phases were completed with the proposed security response structure to compare data.

Initial results/data showed traditional sentry-based security had higher marks in response time and scored high in compliance. The effects-based security scored higher in effectiveness, readiness, and lethality.

Through deliberate development within organizations, the Weapons & Tactics Instructor Course (WTIC) and the Design Warfare through AFWERX created the foundation and building blocks for success. 

"Teamwork and knowledge sharing are common amongst successful programs and agencies,” said Master Sgt. Justin Consley of the 2nd Security Forces Squadron at Barksdale AFB. “Our Weapons & Tactics Shop shares values these qualifies and leveraged expertise from Defenders enterprise-wide.”

Using this deliberate and iterative process enabled a Weapons & Tactics Shop to influence change within the organization and enhance security. Using the Weapons & Tactics model has the potential to promulgate a localized paradigm shift throughout the enterprise.

In today’s rapidly-changing environment, commanders make decisions that weigh the acceptance of risk to force and risk to mission through critical thinking. Weapons & Tactics can help commanders rapidly solve installation security issues and secure our nation’s assets.

“We are driving a positive change in defending our base. We hope to codify our model to drive change across all installations," said Consley.

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