The 86th Security Forces Squadron created a new section at the Ramstein entry control points in an effort to strengthen community relations and show local, international and host nation visitors the level of professionalism they should expect from a U.S. Air Force installation.
The elite section within the gate section was inspired by traditional elite guards, which were standard practice prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.
“We display the pride of being an Airman at Ramstein,” said Master Sgt. Kendrick Lucas, 86th SFS NCO in charge of the Elite Gate Guard Section. “As elite gate guards, we are providing the same security as our fellow defenders, but we wanted to showcase this wing’s positive and professional image.”
In order to ensure the new section presents the highest level of professionalism, defenders are selected by their flight chiefs to go through a screening process, including an interview and review by the squadron’s senior leaders. Members must display the highest standards in professional skill evaluations, military bearing, dress and appearance, as well as their overall military record.
“I live by the motto ‘Look Sharp, Work Sharp,’” said Airman 1st Class Jonathan Ebner, 86th SFS elite gate guard. “We are here not only to be professional and courteous, but also to maintain our vigilance and ensure that we, as first-line defenders, maintain our unit’s image as the premier integrated defense force in USAFE.”
The elite units at several Air Force bases in the U.S. have modified uniform requirements for their members. Most also wear a variation of the Air Force service dress uniform in order to present a highly professional appearance; however, because of the demands at Ramstein, the 86th SFS leaders determined Airman Battle Uniforms is more practical.
“It is paramount for our Airmen at the gates to look sharp and maintain the highest level of standards at all times,” Lucas said. “Ramstein is an extremely busy installation with the potential for leaders from around the world to show up at any time, and we are often the first to welcome them to the Kaiserslautern Military Community. Our professionalism sets the tone for their visit to Ramstein and re-affirms their opinion of the U.S. Air Force. Because we protect the people and resources within our community, it is imperative the first impression is an accurate one.”
Though the uniforms are the same, the requirements for the elite guards have changed. Elite gate guards will wear the same uniform combination, stand at parade rest at all times and maintain formalized positions near the driving lanes much like a military formation.
“I’m very proud of the defenders in the KMC, both on and off Ramstein,” said Lt. Col. Troy Austin, 86th SFS commander. “Together with our host nation we provide Ramstein’s three wings and mission partners a peaceful, safe and secure living and working environment. Our base gates and the defenders working them set the tone for over 28,000 plus personnel entering the base daily. We want everyone to know when they come onto Ramstein, they’re entering the leading edge of professionalism in USAFE.”
First impressions can reach more than base visitors. Ebner said military bearing at the gates has influenced security forces Airmen to strive for excellence.
“Being an elite gate guard has always intrigued me,” Ebner said. “We must always be professional because we are ambassadors of the U.S. to all of the German nationals and everyone that might find their way to our installation.
“I personally love the support and words of affirmation that we have been getting,” Ebner continued. “The difference has been widely recognized in the short time we have had to put it all together.”
Though the unit is new to Ramstein, the elite gate guards are reborn from Air Force tradition and will continue to personify professional attributes to all who pass through the gates at Ramstein while upholding their responsibility to protect and serve.