A Year in Review -- 2022

Mr. Timothy A. Gerald – Acting Security Forces Director

The past few years were busy for Defender Nation as it. We maintained readiness through a global pandemic, assisted in the evacuation of Afghan refugees, and protected bases at home and abroad.

During my tenure as Deputy Director and now Acting Director, the career field has refocused on Air Base Ground Defense.

Air Base Ground Defense (ABGD) is the operational term to assign ground combat operations in defense of U.S. Air Force bases and resources. Security Forces moves, shoots, and communicates to conduct these operations around the world.

The Security Forces Enterprise focused on the following key initiatives throughout 2022 and will continue to prioritize them in the coming years:

  • WEPTAC: Air Force Security Forces is establishing the Security Forces Weapons and Tactics Program to effectively counter threats to our warfighting missions across the globe. The Program aims to develop and leverage the SF Enterprise institutional reservoir of tactical and operational knowledge by graduating Defenders from the Instructor Course. Modeled after the USAF Weapons School, established in 1949, the SF Weapons & Tactics Instructor Course aims to align Defenders with the community’s well-established W&T program and tactics development process.

  • Training: Training is an investment. Proper training provides our Total Force Defenders with the agility necessary to address future conflicts in high-threat areas and pressing worldwide commitments, flight line security, resource protection, and base security zone coordination. Our commitment to taking care of the force and revectoring to ABGD is exemplified in the Exception waiver for staff sergeant and technical sergeants testing for next year’s Lt Colonel and Colonel promotion cycle.

  • Fitness Test: We continue to press forward in the five-step effort to develop tier 2 occupationally specific and relevant physical fitness test and standards for the career field.

  • Law enforcement specialty: The Department of Defense LE must be professional, effective, and efficient to be regarded as a model to follow worldwide. Adherence to the highest standards and fundamentals of professionalism is essential to the profession of LE; training constitutes the glue of effectiveness that forms the foundation for successful LE efforts. On many fronts, Security Forces units continue to excel, e.g., the monthly National Incident-Based Reporting statistics to the FBI have resulted in continual 100% success with zero warnings or errors reported. This is testament to the hard work of those doing the entry and the Indexing Compliance Managers review the cases.

  • Equipment: The Air Staff is working hard to acquire the right equipment for Defenders. Helmets, properly-fitting body armor, and vests will make Defenders more ready for the fight.

  • Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-sUAS): Defensive base operations is greater in scope than any single career field. Air and space professionals from multiple specialties have a role to play; support will include day-to-day execution and the transition into an effective fighting force. Joint A3 (Air Force Directorate of Air, Space, and Information Operations) and A4 (Air Force Chief Information Officer) synchronized efforts will support the new Department of the Air Force focal point and nest skillsets.

  • Human Weapon System: We know that the only way we are going to accomplish our key priorities is by taking care of Airmen. We must think through how to best support Defenders from a physical, mental, and spiritual perspective. By enhancing a culture of well-being for Defenders, we can help cultivate a positive environment - and create a more effective force.

  • Female Defender Initiative (FDI): Female Defenders are essential to Security Forces because they bring a different perspective to the career field. The Air Staff is making an effort to recruit, develop, and retain our female representation in the career field.

U.S. competitors and violent extremist organizations will challenge us. We must be ready to compete, deter, and win in an increasingly challenging environment. I am confident in Defender Nation and our ability to defend the base.

As we enter 2023, we will continue to look at our policies, procedures, and training. Together we will organize, train, and equip to ensure all Defenders remain proficient and ready to defend the base. I look forward to what comes next for Defender Nation.

5 January 2023

UNITED STATES AIR FORCE

GENERAL OFFICER ASSIGNMENT:

BRIG GEN THOMAS P. SHERMAN

FROM:   Deputy Director, Capability Development and Operation Requirements, Deputy Chief of Staff, Strategy, Integration, and Requirements, Headquarters United States Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, DC

TO:        Director, Security Forces, Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection, Headquarters United States Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, DC

Defender Nation Farewell Note!

Defenders - it is my honor to have this opportunity to say THANK YOU for your Leadership and Sacrifice over the last three plus years.  I have been honored to serve Defender Nation as the Director.  What I will remember most about this opportunity is the tenacity from the field to continue to work hard and ensure our Defenders are trained and proficient at the skills needed to protect our families, resources, mission and each other!

Although the time has flown by, I had the opportunity to visit many units and staffs and meet the faces behind the positions that truly make our Career Field great.  Every unit has a unique mission...and an internal culture that ensures our Defenders are well taken care of.   Many thanks to the Command teams across the career field!  Your leadership does not go unnoticed, as you ensure 43K Total Force Defenders remain OUR focus.

Over the last three years, we made substantial progress for the career field. Thank you to the Defenders who championed key initiatives and focused on our primary mission of Air Base Ground Defense.

Together, we made tremendous progress toward Air Base Ground Defense, female defender retention & progression, physical fitness, Integrated Case Management, Cyber Security, Weapons & Tactics, Law Enforcement and much more.

My heart remains with those Defender on the frontline that you lead...whom stand post all around the world and in all-weather conditions to ensure Mission Success!

We are very fortunate to have great SF COMMAND Teams, like YOU...on the frontline leading the Total Force and those that have come before us! 

I wish you ALL the very best in your Command "TEAM" tours!

Always remember we EARN our Badge and Beret every day...wishing you ALL the Best!

Stay Safe!

VR - Defender Collins
Brig Gen Collins
Director of Security Forces

****************************

Editor's Note: Brig Gen Collins has moved to a joint command position and Mr Timothy Gerald is now the Action Director of Security Forces. 

Critical Thinking in an Ever-Changing Environment: How Security Forces uses Weapons & Tactics

By SMSgt Patrick Meade, AFSOC/A4I

Geo-political threats posed by China, Russia, authoritarian states, and an ongoing technological revolution are reshaping every aspect of how Security Forces defends the base. This is a time of unprecedented challenges and unmatched opportunity.

Innovation, relentless decentralization of execution, and empowerment of our junior officers and enlisted will allow Defenders to move fast while executing the mission. Thus, Security Forces is providing agility to the warfighter by streamlining unique problem sets associated with tactical, operational, and strategic level quandaries.

Critical thinking skills are a force multiplier that will be used to shape our future. The ability to identify, develop, and implement extraordinary solutions impacts mission effectiveness. The Total Force innovates and accelerates change to ensure Air Base Ground Defense. 

Our strength as a force increases when we recognize that we fall to the level of our knowledge and training. Defenders require more repetitions on dynamic and challenging training scenarios to produce and wield lethal Defenders capable of effectively defending the base in any environment or situation.

“Defenders must continue receiving world-class training that outpaces our adversaries. This is only achieved through repetition and a culture of continuous improvement,” said Brig. Gen. Roy Collins, Director of Security Forces. “We will continue to look at our policies, procedures, and readiness. Together we will organize, train, and equip to ensure all Defenders remain proficient.”

Challenges arise when seeking problems at the surface level without looking for greater clarity and conducting problem analysis.  

Furthermore, some Defenders have a deep interest in particular subjects and a desire to contribute and innovate to the intellectual advancements of the profession of arms, but lack a defined avenue or medium to transform those ideas into valuable enterprise solutions.

The Barksdale Air Force Base Weapons & Tactics Shop recently implemented a decision-making process to transform ideas into solutions and enhance installation security. They exploited a unique opportunity to rapidly innovate the installation security with the pivotal shift in day-to-day security posture. They understood the change in ideology from "inside out" to "outside inward," protecting the base and reprioritizing resource protection.

An initial test phase was conducted to capture compliance-based security standards' current effectiveness. Subsequent follow-up test phases were completed with the proposed security response structure to compare data.

Initial results/data showed traditional sentry-based security had higher marks in response time and scored high in compliance. The effects-based security scored higher in effectiveness, readiness, and lethality.

Through deliberate development within organizations, the Weapons & Tactics Instructor Course (WTIC) and the Design Warfare through AFWERX created the foundation and building blocks for success. 

"Teamwork and knowledge sharing are common amongst successful programs and agencies,” said Master Sgt. Justin Consley of the 2nd Security Forces Squadron at Barksdale AFB. “Our Weapons & Tactics Shop shares values these qualifies and leveraged expertise from Defenders enterprise-wide.”

Using this deliberate and iterative process enabled a Weapons & Tactics Shop to influence change within the organization and enhance security. Using the Weapons & Tactics model has the potential to promulgate a localized paradigm shift throughout the enterprise.

In today’s rapidly-changing environment, commanders make decisions that weigh the acceptance of risk to force and risk to mission through critical thinking. Weapons & Tactics can help commanders rapidly solve installation security issues and secure our nation’s assets.

“We are driving a positive change in defending our base. We hope to codify our model to drive change across all installations," said Consley.

Celebrating Five Years of Marriage in the Desert

5 September 2022, Story and photo by SSgt Ashley Mikaio, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs, Kuwait 

U.S. Air Force TSgt Vashard Armand, 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron NCOIC of installation area access, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Armand, 386th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron readiness manager, tell a story about their daughter, Ayden, at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, September 5, 2022. The Armands' first met on a deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base in 2016 and will be celebrating their five-year anniversary while on deployment to the Rock.

ALI AL SALEM AIR BASE, Kuwait – It’s fall of 2016 at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, in the middle of the dining facility. A young Senior Airman Ashley Robinson goes up to an unknowing Staff Sgt. Vashard Armand to ask him about a friend on base. Vashard, not knowing who Ashley was talking about, answered her question and waved her off. Ashley, thinking nothing of the interaction, goes about her day, later that night running into none other than Vashard hanging out with friends. After a couple hours of talking, they realized they had many friends in common throughout the Air Force and had plenty in common themselves. After that night, one was rarely seen without the other.

Almost six years later Staff Sgt. Ashley Armand, readiness manager for the 386th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron, and Tech Sgt. Vashard Armand, NCOIC of installation area access for the 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, are married with a one-year-old, and find themselves celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary on deployment together at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, September 6, 2022.

“In all honesty I thought after we left, I’d probably never see her again,” Vashard recalled. “But when I was on rest and recuperation leave, she was like ‘Hey I’m going to come visit you okay?’ and sure enough she asked what airport she should fly into and showed up. She met my parents, and no one had ever met them before,” he said with a serious tone.

After their deployment, Vashard and Ashley started dating long distance, eventually deciding they’d had enough of not seeing each other every day. The distance ultimately encouraged them to tie the knot.

“We spoke every day and it was just weird not seeing her every day. You get used to someone being there,” Vashard said.

After a few years and a couple more deployments between them, Ashley and Vashard welcomed a baby girl, Ayden, into the world. After growing up in a military family herself, they came to the conclusion that the possibility of both being deployed one after the other and spending a year apart, was too great a risk for their family. They decided to get in the same deployment window so that when they would eventually deploy again, they’d go at the same time and only spend six months apart from each other and their daughter.

After her husband was tasked for a deployment to Kuwait, Ashley went to her leadership with a request.

“I went to my commander, and I let her know ‘My husband is going to this location, and you have these spots available, I’d be more than willing to take one of those and try to be on the same deployment as him,” Ashley reflected. “And she was like, ‘Absolutely! If I can keep a family tighter, why not?’”

While it’s great for the Armands’ to have a piece of home with them in the desert, they struggle with missing their daughter as new parents.

“This is our first time leaving our one-year-old,” Ashley said hesitantly. “Granted, she’s with people that she knows and she’s super happy and loves them. But being a brand-new mom, leaving was hard.”

Military service comes with its up and downs like any other job or aspect of life. Sharing your life with someone who is also serving in the military can come with a little more grace and understanding as it has for Ashley and Vashard.

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