To be eyes of the eagle; AFOSI

by Senior Airman Timothy Moore
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

There are probably as many reasons as there are people why a person decides to join the military, and likely even more reasons why those same people choose the career path they do.
For some members of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, many of the special agents have similar goals and reasons in mind when making the decision to apply.
“I wanted to [see] results for the actions I took on a more regular basis as opposed to other Air Force specialty codes… Sometimes you don’t really get to see the impact of what you are doing on a daily basis,” said Special Agent Christopher Ouellette, 13th Field Investigation Squadron commander. “In AFOSI, we are able to go out and touch people’s lives and have a huge impact to the wing commander and to the entire base population.”
AFOSI agents have a unique chance to influence their community and the Air Force in many ways. The special agents in the 13th FIS do this in one of three departments.
In the major crimes division, special agents handle cases that may involve death, rape or child abuse among other things. One case the 13th FIS handled, led to the capture of a child molester who received a 50-year prison sentence.
“For me, the biggest thing is the law enforcement,” said Special Agent Renato De Jesus, 13th FIS. “I want to make sure that criminals get prosecuted. I want to protect Air Force assets and personnel.”
Agents work incidents such as attempts at fraud in the Economic Crimes division. One case happened during the construction of the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center.
“We ran several fraud investigations, which were briefed in front of Congress, which talked about product substitution,” Ouellette said. “You had some German contractors who were colluding with Air Force active duty members to cut corners and get the job done faster, but they were also doing it for financial gain for themselves. Our investigations halted some of the work that was being done, but it was [stopped] for the right reasons.”
Then there is the counter intelligence cell, which works to prevent hostile foreign intelligence entities from gaining knowledge that could be harmful to the Air Force and the U.S.
“We’re pretty fortunate that we get to do this kind of work day-by-day, keeping the community safe,” Ouellette said.
Though it is unlikely for an Airman to be selected straight into AFOSI, the application process can begin early in an Airman’s career.
The procedure is similar for both officers and enlisted members. However, enlisted applicants must be at least a senior airman with a line number for staff sergeant. While technical sergeants can be accepted with strong packages, the focus is more on staff sergeants and staff sergeant selects. Applicants must be able to be released from their career fields. This can be checked through the Air Force Personnel Center. For overseas Airmen, applicants must also be within 13 to 11 months of their date eligible to return from overseas. They must also have good performance reports. If all requirements are met, potential agents will then be interviewed by the local AFOSI unit commander or superintendent and go through a background check.
“My application process took about six months from the day I knocked on the AFOSI door to the day I was notified I was going to train,” De Jesus said. “Initially, it was overwhelming because they are asking a lot of information about 10 years of my history. Once you get all that information, there is really nothing to the process since the agent does all of the leg work.”
The background check will look for indicators that could potentially make a person unfit to be an agent such as financial issues, marital problems or trouble with the law. However, some things do not rule an applicant out automatically.
“The key is you want to have integrity and offer that information up,” Ouellette said. “You don’t want to have skeletons come up when you are an agent on a stand testifying and someone brings up your past before you came in the military. If all this stuff is known and you still appear to be a good applicant, we put your package in front of a review board.”
Applicants with certain backgrounds or skills can bolster their packages to put them a step ahead of other AFOSI hopefuls.
“It helps to have a background or at least a keen interest in law enforcement, counterintelligence, cyber skills or speak another language,” Ouellette said.
The board reviews the package and votes on whether or not a candidate should become an agent.
If selected to become an agent, applicants will then go through approximately four months of training. The program starts with trainees working alongside other federal agency trainees, then moves on to more specialized AFOSI training.
Once done with training, agents spend their first 12 to 18 months as a probationary agent. During this time, special agents will complete core tasks as part of their upgrade training. They will take online and residential courses, go on temporary duty assignments and complete monthly evaluations to become proficient in their duties. A package is then submitted to the AFOSI general officer to be signed.
“After that time and it looks like you passed everything, you become a full-fledged agent,” Ouellette said.
Once an agent, Airmen have the opportunity to be-come specialists.
“We have another AFOSI unit that is made up of purely specialists,” Ouellette said. “We are talking polygraphers, technical services, and forensic scientist consultants. If you are really good at electronics, you might be perfect for the tech services career field later on.”
Agents on the technical service track can move on after completing their first assignment. If not on that route, agents still have the opportunity to apply for a specialty area.
Though being a part of AFOSI is a way to impact and protect the Air Force and the community, Airmen do not need to become a special agent to do so. One way all Airmen can protect others is through Eagle Eyes.
Eagle Eyes is an Air Force-wide program designed to deter terrorism by recognizing and reporting suspicious activity, and AFOSI, as their motto says, are the “Eyes of the Eagle.”
“Eagle Eyes is not just a force protection against terrorist acts but also against regular people doing bad things out there in the world,” Ouellette said.
Ouellette encourages everyone to use Eagle Eyes to aid AFOSI and security forces protect the Air Force and the community.
Want to join the members of AFOSI? On the last Wednesday of the every month at 2 p.m., anyone who is interested in coming into AFOSI can show up to the 13th FIS and receive information about how to become a special agent and start the application process.
For more information about AFOSI, visit the 13th FIS or call DSN 480-5779; commercial 06371-47-5779.