Security forces: to protect and defend

by Senior Airman Hailey Haux
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Photo illustration by Hans Roth
Photo illustration by Hans Roth

Sitting in the driver’s seat, your vision is blurred and images of the scene come in and out of focus. Your head is pounding as you try to make sense of what just happened. Everything suddenly
becomes clear and you realize the front of your car is on fire.

As panic sets in, adrenaline pumping, you try frantically to escape only to find out the seatbelt won’t unbuckle and you’re trapped. You think to yourself, “Is this it?” and close your eyes.

After what seems to be hours, you hear someone banging on your window. An unfamiliar face with the familiar beret calmly says, “Everything will be OK. I will get you out.”

The security forces member then opens the car door, cuts the seatbelt and pulls you to safety.
Security forces members risk their lives every day to safeguard the base resources and those who live and work here.

“Our squadron is the primary integrated defense force for the installation,” said Senior Master Sgt. James Allen, 86th Security Forces Squadron security forces manager. “We not only check IDs and patrol, we secure protection-level assets on the installation and provide close-boundary security for high-level assets that transit Ramstein, to include the president of the United States. We are also the primary force to detect, delay and defeat a ground threat to the installation.”

Being overseas creates challenges bases in the states don’t deal with on a daily basis, and overcoming those challenges is a product of teamwork and training.

“Our biggest challenge is balancing an aggressive in-garrison operations tempo with an equally aggressive deployment tempo,” Allen said. “About seven months ago we moved our operations flight into eight-hour shifts instead of 12-hour shifts.  We saw a dramatic downward change in off-duty disciplinary issues and a rise in our defender’s resiliency.”

Being on shift for eight hours gives members of the 86th SFS time to see family, take care of military business during the work week and allow their training requirements to be met without having people come in on their day off.

Recently, security forces members won several awards due to hard work and dedication.

“Overall, we won the (U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa) Col. Billy Jack Carter, Elizabeth N. Jacobson, Outstanding Security Forces Higher Headquarter Civilian Staff Support, Outstanding Security Forces Flight Level Civilian (supervisory) and Outstanding Security Forces Civilian (non-supervisory) awards,” said Allen, winner of the Col. Billy Jack Carter Award. “For me personally, the award I won was a testament of the Airmen I had the pleasure of working with, mentoring and leading.

“Their motivation and personal sacrifice to ensure mission accomplishment in a combat zone was astonishing,” he added. “Senior Airman Ashely Wendler, 86th SFS award winner, is a phenomenal Airman. Motivated and dedicated, her efforts, mindset and tenacity ensure the Air Force’s future. The host nation employees who won the awards are defenders through and through. They are the foundation and continuity for the unit.”

Without our defenders here to safeguard our sensitive communication and airlift assets and provide an armed response to many restricted areas and alarmed facilities, things could go wrong in an instant.

“We live in dangerous times, and security forces members are here to protect us as a base populace, and without them bad things can happen,” said Staff Sgt. Quintin Thompson, 786th Force Support Squadron, power production technician.