Security Forces Spotlight: Women’s History Month
Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Women's History Month is an important time to recognize and celebrate the contributions of women in all areas of the military.

One area where women made significant strides is in Air Force Security Forces. Also known as "Defenders," today, they are responsible for providing air base ground defense for installations and assets worldwide. This includes law enforcement, anti-terrorism, and force protection duties.

“Female Defenders prove every day that they have the strength, courage, and determination to excel in any role they undertake,” said Laurie Sherman, spouse of the Director of Security Forces. “Their contributions to our nation’s security are invaluable, and we are grateful for their service.”

Women were not allowed to serve in the Air Force and other branches of the military until President Harry S. Truman signed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948. At that time, women were only allowed to make up 2% of the total number of servicemembers and were not allowed to serve in combat roles. This changed over time. By the 1970s, women were able to serve in a wider variety of roles within the Air Force.

One of the first women to break barriers in, what was at the time, the Security Forces Police field was Airman Andrea K. Taylor. Taylor attended basic training and the Law Enforcement Specialist Course and then joined the 94th Security Police Squadron in January 1975.

The career field has seen substantial progress since that time.

In 2006, Maj. Gen. Kay Hertog became the first female security forces general officer selected as the Director of Security Forces. Hertog entered the Air Force in 1978 as a Reserve Officer Training Corps distinguished graduate and has since risen through the ranks to become a leader in the security forces community. She commanded at each level and was decorated for her service. Hertog served as a mentor and role model for other women in the security forces field.


Lt. Gen. Andrea D. Tullos was later selected as the Director of Security Forces in 2016. Tullos was also the first woman in the security forces career field to make 3-Star.


In 2015 Chief Master Sergeant Tamala L. Hartz was selected to serve as the first female Career Field Manager of Security Forces. Chief Hartz is a native of Greeley, Colorado and entered the Air Force in 1990. She has led numerous positions at the Group, Wing, and MAJCOM levels.  With her strong foundation in training, she directly impacted the development and skill of Defenders throughout the course of their careers.


In 2018 Mrs. Heidi L. Scheppers was appointed as the first female Defender Senior Executive Service. She provided leadership, direction, and strategic continuity for a force of 38,000 active-duty and Reserve component security forces personnel conducting physical security, antiterrorism, force protection and policing operations. Mrs. Scheppers was commissioned in 1991 as a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. She served 14 years on active duty with the Air Force and entered the Department of Defense Civil Service and Air Force Reserves in 2005.

The Air Force also offers various leadership development programs to help prepare trailblazers in the Air Force Security Forces career field, and in the Air Force as a whole. Their dedication and service has, and will continue to inspire generations of future Defender leaders.

Air Force Security Forces leadership is working to enhance representation in the career field.

The Air Force is making a concerted effort to recruit and retain more women as Defenders. This includes the establishment of programs such as the Air Force Security Forces Female Defender Initiative team, which focuses on the recruitment, retention, and career development of women in the Air Force.

To find out more about the critical work that Security Forces does, follow us on Facebook or Instagram under the handle @afdefenders!

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