Defenders Receive Army Recognition for Civil Unrest Support

By MSgt Jessica Roles, 189th Airlift Wing, 22 January 2021

SMSgt Herbert Bates, 189th Security Forces Squadron First Sergeant, reads the citation as members of the 189th Security Forces Squadron receive Army Commendation and Achievement medals January 9, 2021, at Little Rock Air Force Base, AR. The defenders were awarded eight Army Commendation Medals and 19 Army Achievement Medals between the group for their support and guidance during the civil unrest in Little Rock May 31 - June 8, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by MSgt Jessica Roles)

Recently, the 189th Security Forces Squadron, Little Rock AFB, AR held a presentation in which 27 defenders received Army achievement and commendation medals. The presentation was held during the January unit training assembly in the Security Forces building for their direct support of the Arkansas National Guard’s Quick Reaction Force during the civil unrest events in downtown Little Rock last summer.

Selected members were activated under the state active duty mission from May 31 - June 8, 2020. The defenders worked with the Arkansas State Police to complete eight missions during a nine-day period. The assistance of the wing’s security forces unit enabled law enforcement to conduct and enforce mitigation procedures and de-escalate the civil disturbance in downtown Little Rock.

“It’s a rare achievement to receive sister-service medal recognition,” said MSgt Matthew Pfleger, a 189th Security Forces Squadron team supervisor. “Our defenders provided to be the consummate professionals as expected, the whole time. Their capabilities are limitless and they’re always on alert and postured for anything.”

The duties of the Quick Reaction Force require significant training between sister services as well as local law enforcement agencies. The QRF team must accomplish significant amounts of training in accordance with the Federal Emergency Management Association guidelines such as civil actions, crown dynamics, protestor tactics and more. The QRF also trains with the Arkansas Army National Guard and local law enforcement each year to maintain their readiness and ability to support the state.

In addition to providing support to local law enforcement during the civil unrest activities, several members were also responsible for training more than 350 Soldiers from another task force, preparing the Soldiers to effectively integrate with the Arkansas State Police request for assistance. This training covered tactics, techniques and procedures required to safely and efficiently carry out Defense Support of Civil Authorities as well as mentored key Army personnel in effectively supervising field force operations.

“Initially there were a lot of growing pains,” Pfleger said. “But those things have worked themselves out and improved greatly. Coming together and establishing communication, standardized training and equipment, and a joint force involvement with clear expectations was critical with building that relationship and working together.”

The capabilities of the Arkansas Army and Air National Guard defenders to support Arkansas law enforcement and the state define their capabilities and their ability to adapt, embrace and complete any mission assigned to them. Because of the cooperation and willingness to work together, eight commendation medals and 19 achievement medals were awarded to the security forces Airmen who played a role in the civil disturbances.

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