OSI: Silent professionals during Operation Allies Refuge

U.S. Air Force Special Agent Melvin Watson, Office of Special Investigations investigator, speaks with an evacuee during Operation Allies Refuge at Ramstein Air Base, Sept. 7. Ramstein provides safety, shelter, food, and medical services to evacuees while they await transportation to other transient locations.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Detachment 515, has deviated from its normal operations in favor of 24-hour support during Operation Allies Refuge at Ramstein Air Base.

Throughout OAR, OSI has been coordinating and orchestrating the efforts of federal law enforcement agencies, operating as a conduit for information between echelons here in Europe and the United States. This cooperation ensures the safety and security of our military service members, the multitude of volunteers, our installations, and the evacuees themselves.

“Normally, we don’t find ourselves in a situation wherein 24 hours we go from normal operations to having an additional several thousand people living on our base,” said Special Agent Aaron Yardley, OSI Region 5 special investigator. “We highlight information to [the wing commander] and his team, so [Brig. Gen. Olson] makes the best decisions relative to the safety and security of Ramstein and the Kaiserslautern Military Community.”

The diversity of OSI skillsets OSI surged from across the globe ranging from special agents to analysts to mission support personnel, has enabled them to operate similarly to working in a deployed environment.

“OSI personnel are often referred to as silent professionals working with our interagency teammates to ensure evacuees can move forward to the United States,” said Col. Terrence Joyce, OSI Europe/Africa wing commander.

OSI has been working with the Department of Defense, Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, Security Forces Defenders, and other federal agencies to guarantee decision-makers have the information they need to make timely force protection, safety, and security decisions”.

“Our goal is to rapidly and thoroughly address any concerns with our guests that arise,” said Joyce. “We are making sure we do our due diligence because our goal is to make sure [guests] can move forward as quickly as they can to their next location.”

The mission of OSI outside of OAR is to protect the installation by cooperating and collaborating with the host nation, law enforcement, and security services to ensure commanders have information to protect their base and local community from any criminal, terrorism, and intelligence threats. This mission has given OSI personnel an opportunity to be part of the larger humanitarian efforts.

“This operation shows the spirit of America,” said Joyce. “It shows how we integrate and take care of one another. It truly captures the spirit of America because so many active-duty military members and dependents are willing to contribute during and after duty hours to support OAR.”

U.S. Air Force Special Agents assigned to the Office of Special Investigations gather for a discussion during Operation Allies Refuge at Ramstein Air Base, Sept. 7. The priority of OSI outside of OAR is to identify, exploit, and neutralize criminal, intelligence, and terrorist threats to the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Space Force, and those impacting our allies and partners. This is often done through collaboration with state, federal, Department of Defense, and host nation law enforcement, intelligence, and security.
U.S. Air Force Special Agent Michael Bicket, Office of Special Investigations investigator, speaks on the phone during Operation Allies Refuge at Ramstein Air Base, Sept. 7. During Operation Allies Refuge, OSI and the FBI assembled joint teams to ensure the timely flow of information to military commanders and civilian decision-makers. OSI is also collaborating with numerous other federal law enforcement and host nation security agencies to ensure the 86th Airlift Wing and United States Air Forces in Europe have the necessary information to make timely force protection decisions.