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

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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.

Defender Selected for Brigadier General

Defenders - please join me in congratulating our newest Defender BG (sel) Tom Sherman. 

A huge congrats to Tom & Laurie on this amazing personal and professional milestone.  I have known these two for some time and they are an AWESOME team. Tom it is with a joyful heart I say congrats and looking forward to the impact you will have across the DAF!

Defender Nation is stronger today with leaders like yourself being selected to yet again to lead at the next level.  Wishing you and Laurie all the best from a Total Force of 43K Defenders!

VR - Brig Gen Collins
Director of Security Forces

Defender Nation,

Thank you to the Defenders in the field who made significant progress for the Enterprise and focused on our primary mission of Air Base Ground Defense (ABGD). This will help ensure the safety and protection of our Airmen and Guardians, their families, and warfighting capabilities domestically and overseas.

The Total Force Enterprise is focused on the CSAF DEFNEXT32 Report.  The primary objective of the report is ensuring necessary changes are made to the Enterprise’s doctrine, policy, and guidance. Adjustments to foundational, sustainment, and deployment trainings will meet current and future Agile Combat Employment requirements.  We updated the foundational Basic Officers, Apprentice (now known as the Basic Defender Course), Combat Leaders, and Integrated Defense Command & Control Courses; they will be onboarded this year. Together, these courses will help ensure the right level of foundational investment in ABGD across the Total Force.

The Enterprise’s second priority area is investing in Law Enforcement (LE) expertise. In late CY21, the first class of Credentialed Law Enforcement officers graduated, and the career field established a LE Special Experience Identifier, to meet DoD Peace Officer & Standards Training (POST) requirements. Today, more than 230 Defenders completed the DoD POST Course and possess a numbered credential. The goal is to credential approximately 7.6K of the 43K Total Force Defenders. My team is also working to ensure that Civilians who completed comparative trainings can be credentialed this year.

The third priority area is Weapons and Tactics. The Instructor Course is at Initial Operating Capability. More than 240 Defenders completed the rigorous 12-week course. The impact from this course is immense; they provide critical mission analysis in the field to our command teams to adjust relevant tactics, techniques and procedures quickly at the operational level, ensuring faster employment of effects-based security.

The fourth priority area is investing in the Human Weapon System. We fielded new weapons, improved capability, and equipment over the past three years, which helped make the Total Force more agile and ready. In fact, all fielding is programmed and on track. I like to think of this as “Defender Now,” as we provide more support to Defenders and their families. As part of this effort, we are working with the Mental Health and Chaplains professionals, fielding the new Operational Fitness Test, and furthering the Female Defender Initiative to improve recruitment, retention and progression. 

We are tracking each of the key initiatives in two plans - the Security Forces Enterprise Plan and DEFNEXT32. We are on track for many of the initiatives. I am confident these initiatives will immediately help the Enterprise. I appreciate every Defender who stepped up to own some of these solutions. I look forward to closing out this year with the same speed and tenacity as we have approached every challenge with over the last three years.

Proud To Be Defender Nation!
VR – Defender Collins

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