The Year of the Defender Improved Career Field Capabilities

Brig Gen Collins

10 February 2020

As we move forward into the New Year, I’d like to reflect upon the past, “Year of the Defender” and how this critical initiative equipped our Defenders to be more lethal and more ready. The increased investment in training, resourcing and equipment provided the career field with a spark that will continue to deliver capabilities to our Defenders for years to come.

The Year of the Defender Memorandum, signed by Air Force Senior Leaders, was designed to restore readiness, revitalize Security Forces organizations at all levels, and build a more dynamic force in accordance with the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Air Force direction. Numerous enterprise-wide efforts were established to equip our Defenders to better identify threats, better protect and defend our air bases to support Air Force, Joint and Coalition missions.

Our initial efforts focused at the source of proficiency and professionalism by overhauling the curriculum at the Security Forces Academy. A top to bottom review of the Academy was critical in providing the operational units a higher caliber Defender upon graduation. With the support of our strong SF Academy leadership team and our elite Security Forces Instructor cadre, we quickly updated our curriculum and implemented the changes in record time. This effort was critical in improving the foundation of our Defender’s development.

Much needed focus was placed on human capital investment to protect our most important asset - the Defender. Sustained efforts were placed to institute leader-led training. Leader led training put our Supervisor’s back into the loop of owning the responsibility of training the Airmen they lead. This effort has built a stronger connection and responsibility of ownership in the Supervisor with their Airmen. Additionally, we placed focus on Tier Training, which provides training gates that all Defenders must go through to ensure they are proficient for the skill level of their current rank. The Tier level training has provided operational units the ability to determine overall readiness of their Airmen based on whether they are enlisted or officer.

Human Capital investment extended to our Civilian Defenders, who have been critical to maintaining our current readiness level. Our Civilian Defenders are now graduating from a 10-week course at VA LETC that is compliant with DoD Law Enforcement Peace Officers Standards and Training requirements. This investment ensures our Civilian Defenders are ready to meet all mission requirements. This is especially important as we look to increase their role in Integrated Base Defense.

Additionally, we were successful in accelerating the delivery of modernized equipment to the field. The delivery of the new weapons systems, which includes the M18 handgun and the M4A1 rifle are underway. The need for better weapons was long overdue and critical in providing our Defenders with the fire power necessary to defend our installations.

We strategically began investment in new modular scalable vests and helmets designed for better protection and fit while performing daily duties. We are also in the final stages of the designing and fielding the first-ever Female Body Armor to ensure all Defenders have proper fitting gear to meet mission requirements.

In order to properly support the operational units, the Headquarters Air Force staff conducted a full evaluation of all career field policy and doctrine to ensure tactical and strategic alignment. Where warranted, there was a complete re-write. These efforts are ongoing but we have started to refine gaps in policy and improved guidance to the operational units executing the mission. Better guidance drives improved execution!

Continuing into 2020, our newly developed Security Forces Enterprise Plan will support the current efforts underway from “Year of the Defender.” Our Security Forces Enterprise Plan will focus on four strategic goals, “Institutionalizing an Elite Defender Culture, Proficiency Focused Training, Modernizing Enterprise Capabilities, and Standardizing Requirements.” More to follow as we work to finalize the focus areas under each of these strategic goals.

As the largest enlisted career field in the Air Force with approximately 38,000 total force Defenders serving on over 120 bases, it is the job of Security Forces to protect, defend and fight! We are responsible for integrated defense, nuclear security, and defending air bases around the globe. It is imperative we continue to train, develop, resource and equip the total force to include our Civilian Defenders for the environment in which we operate now and for the future.

These items discussed today is only a small portion of the success of the “Year of The Defender.” Our efforts will remain centered on how we continue to make the Defender Weapon System…More Lethal and More Ready every day!

Brig Gen Collins







Defenders, I am proud to announce and CONGRATULATE our newest Defender Colonels!










The hard work and commitment to excellence of these Defenders directly contributed to the Air Force’s decision for them to earn the title of “senior leader” in our Service. They now have the opportunity to perform the duties and take on the responsibilities associated with that small circle of leaders. Their achievements are indicative of their unwavering dedication to the Air Force’s core values and their ability to take care of the mission and their people with equal skill. I look forward to serving with them in leading our Elite Defenders to be More Lethal and More Ready!

VR – R.
Director of Security Forces


Editor’s Note: These Defenders were selected for promotion amongst 431 peers in a pool of over 3,600 eligible officers.

Squadron of the Future: Creating More Effective Defenders

By A1C Jennifer Zima, 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs, 11 Dec 2019

Airman 1st Class Cameron Rogers, 422nd Security Forces Squadron installation entry controller, clears an M4 carbine during a recall exercise at RAF Croughton, United Kingdom, Nov. 21, 2019. Quarterly recall exercises are a form of readiness for defenders to always be prepared to respond at a moment’s notice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jennifer Zima)

RAF CROUGHTON, United Kingdom (AFNS) --

RAF Croughton is at the forefront of innovation, helping create the most effective defenders in the Air Force.

The 422nd Security Forces Squadron has been selected to undergo a six-month trial in a complete revitalization of the squadron.

“Security forces senior leaders recognized the need to overhaul security forces squadrons,” said Senior Master Sgt. Nicholas Whitney, 422nd SFS Defense Force Sustainment Flight superintendent. “We needed to capitalize on utilization of our resources and support operational function. Basically, aligning the forces for optimal performance.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein commissioned this idea under the Year of the Defender initiative to focus on training readiness, modernizing the force enterprise-wide and improving quality of life with eight-hour shifts. Squadron of the Future began at RAF Croughton Sept. 1, concentrating on providing defenders with more training opportunities, protected time off, and reorganizing the unit structure into a leaner, more efficient system.

“The biggest takeaway for me is the decentralized command relationship for the master sergeants, … the (noncommissioned officer) tier and down,” said Capt. Alexander Parsons, 422nd SFS operations officer. “It is really empowering those in junior-leadership levels to make decisions at the tactical level. Whereas in a traditional chain-of-command hierarchy, the decisions are elevated and made at a higher level. That is not the focus here. I want my Airmen and my NCOs to be empowered to make those decisions even at the lowest level possible. That frees up the senior leadership within the squadron to focus more on the strategic, operational and longer-term objectives.”

For 18 years, Air Force security forces squadrons followed the U.S. Army doctrine of separating the squadron into sections, S1 through S5: Commander Support Staff (S1), Intelligence Flight (S2), Operations and Training Flight (S3), Logistics and Resources Flight (S4), and Installation Security, Plans and Programs (S5). The new test program has removed these classifications and restructured the squadron to be more effective with streamlined communication transitioning to a three-system operations flight, a sustainment flight and command support staff.

With the implementation of Squadron of the Future, the biggest quality-of-life improvement is that off-duty time is secured.

“We started this back in September and we have not once brought anyone in from protected time off,” Whitney said. “When the flight is on their protected time off, no one in the unit is allowed to bring someone in unless the commander approves it. It is equivalent to crew rest.”

Defenders at RAF Croughton also increased their monthly training days from four to six. Likewise, trainers work alongside defenders to assist in training needs.

“Previously when we had to go to training, people generally drag their feet,” said Tech. Sgt. Corey Southard, 422nd SFS noncommissioned officer in charge of training. “Now you have a trainer embedded amongst your flight. People are more receptive to it. They have someone with them who’s their trainer. It’s twofold – the quicker they train you, the quicker you get out or go off to bigger and better things.”

The Squadron of the Future concept is being tested at 14 different security forces squadrons across the Air Force, at least one in each major command. Monthly conference calls with senior leaders bring Airmen together to talk about the progress and give feedback.

“Our senior leaders at the headquarters level are really taking care of the defenders out on the ground,” Whitney said. “In 18 years, this is a whole new change, but it’s a change for the right reasons. It is making us a more lethal career field by giving us more time to do training. That’s a lot of time not only to take care of our annual training plan requirements, but it also allows us to focus on the things that may be specific to RAF Croughton. It's making us more lethal defenders, because you never know when the next threat’s going to come.”

RAF Croughton is the only test base in U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa.

In 2017, the Air Force lost 62 Active Duty Airmen to suicide. Many of those losses being men and wom-en that wore the coveted blue beret. The Brave Badge Initiative is a social media platform that has strengthened the Security Forces community and is focused to changing the culture of every squadron. The founder of The Brave Badge Initiative, TSgt Calin A. Cronin, devised the idea after identifying the need for a crisis platform while stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. After spending the next 6 months engineering the services of the platform, The Brave Badge Initiative was launched in September of 2018, just months after he arrived to Eielson AFB, Alaska.

The administrative team consists of TSgt Cronin; TSgt Sean Batson out of Malmstrom AFB, Montana; TSgt Bryan Thayer out of St. Paul ARS, Minnesota; TSgt Christian Kampe out of Joint Base Andrews, Maryland and SSgt David Borrego out of Malmstrom AFB, Montana. “Our goal is to ultimately lower suicides and fuel a climate of revitalized Security Forces members,” Cronin said. “We aspire to encourage active intervention and provide tools/lessons learned for comrades to lead someone to professional resources or resilient methods to overcome any Security Forces career-field related crisis.” He went on to add, “I am so grateful for this team and what they have given to our Defenders. They have taken on a great responsibility to be 24/7 available to any Defender that is battling with something that they can’t overcome.”

The Brave Badge Initiative offers several avenues to share personal insight and opinion across the career field. As the first Security Forces crisis platform to ever launch an anonymous messaging tool, the admin-istrative team has received dozens of testimonies from retired, active and recently-separated members who were struggling with anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts. Voting polls are also delivered to the masses to bring light to specific topics that affect our career field’s mental health. Other than providing resources, programs and articles of how to cope with issues that many Security Forces members are bat-tling every day, The Brave Badge Initiative has become a reporting tool to alert the career field when a tragic loss has occurred. “This is probably the hardest part of this responsibility. Not only is the team try-ing to cross-match information to make sure it is accurate, but we are trying to pay the ultimate respect to the unit and family left behind,” said Cronin. “Every time our team confirms a loss in the career field, we check on each other as Wingmen. Having the responsibility to inform others and trying to maintain an outpour of resiliency for our followers comes with a lot of stress. There is no doubt, we are synchronized and know that WE must be resilient to encourage the resiliency in others.” The platform has many plans for the future and seeks to find methods to assist Defender families who have lost Defender loved ones.

2019 has brought a large discussion to suicide and resiliency across the Air Force. Currently, the Air Force has lost over a 100 Airmen to suicide. On 1 August 2019, The CSAF General David Goldfein directed an Air Force-wide Resilience Tactical Pause for all Wings to execute, giving an opportunity to devise plans on lowering suicide and strengthening our readiness. Platforms such as The Brave Badge Initiative have echoed that stand-down and are encouraging their followers to be intrusive and active in helping other Defenders. The discussion of suicide and not being everyday ready as a Defender comes with many stigmas, yet the administrative team is working each day to bury those stigmas and instill bravery in each Defender to come forward if they are struggling.

With their more than 6,000 followers in less than a year, The Brave Badge Initiative has been commended for their contributions on several occasions. The Air University Command Chief, CMSgt Todd Simmons, who is also originally a Defender, has publicly recognized the platform on numerous occasions and has stated, “there were numerous grass-root efforts started over the past year to get after combating suicides, spreading awareness, and speaking directly to those in need of help. This is just one of those efforts I have watched and admired.”

The Brave Badge Initiative team encourages all Defenders and Airmen to find any platform or resource that exists that they can connect with. The Brave Badge Initiative is one of many platforms for the De-fender community, and they encourage Airmen to consider other resources like the Air Force’s Resiliency website and the local programs offered at installations across the globe. Their signature hashtag “#StayBrave” has turned into a movement to increase mental health awareness and communication among all ranks. Upholding their creed, “Saving Each Other, To Save Others”, the team at The Brave Badge Initiative is giving all Defenders a chance to rescue each other, no matter the crisis.


Protection Strategies Incorporated Hiring

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