JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
Before joining the "real Air Force" as, finance, civil engineering, maintenance and force support specialists, 22 Airmen, who had just graduated from the First Term Airmen Center Jan. 22, 2015, were selected to become the newest members of the Security Forces Augmentee Program.
After two-and-a-half days of training, these Airmen became Joint Base Charleston's first security forces augmentees under a reinvigorated wing augmentation program.
As the Air Force faces an uncertain future, persistent cuts and more requirements with fewer people, being an Airman is more demanding than ever, and these Airmen were learning that lesson as they prepared to personally become part of the Integrated Defense team learning everything from using a police baton to subduing and searching an uncooperative offender, and a whole lot in between.
Security Forces Augmentee Training is designed to take Airmen outside of their career field and provide them with the essential skills to perform basic security and police functions in order to assist security forces members during times of heightened threat and need.
"Security forces augmentation provides the Joint Base Integrated Defense Forces with enough personnel to ensure the security of the installation is maintained during increased force protection conditions," said Master Sgt. Gary Gilliam, 628th Security Forces Squadron NCO in charge of training.
To meet this need, Airmen, mostly graduates from JB Charleston FTAC, embark on a course that includes both classroom and hands on exercises that show them the fundamentals of what security forces does, such as guardmount procedures, apprehending a suspect, searching, handcuffing and other duties.
"It is important training and excellent public relations for security forces," said Department of the Air Force Police Officer Jimmy Brown, 628th SFS trainer. "It allows them to get a better feel of what security forces and to better understand our important mission of how security forces trains."
The training included 10 physically demanding core tasks including basic integrated defense concepts, use of force, team tactics, handcuffing, searches and more.
Whether it is police tactics training or search techniques that are taught, it is apparent the training helps carry out Charleston's mission.
"In times of critical need we just don't have enough manning to protect every facet of our mission," said Lt. Col. Brad Brainard, 628th SFS commander. "The armed Security Force Augmentee Program fills gaps and ensures the base mission and people are secure."
The training can be an enjoyable and eye-opening experience.
"Inside every Airman is a defender," said Capt. Jonathan Blount, 628th SFS operations officer. "The augmentee training these Airmen completed brought out that defender and unleashed the warrior ethos every member of the military has."
Overall, security forces augmentee training is a valuable tool that provides a deeper appreciation for those who wear the security force shield.
"The information I gained was valuable and it can be used during personal situations at my day-to-day job" said Airman 1st Class Marco Small-Gonzalez, 628th Civil Engineer Squadron heavy equipment operator.
While the 628th SFS trains augmentees to protect the base, it does not take a trained eye to notice something out of place; as everyone is part of the integrated defense team.
"If you see something that looks out of the ordinary, say something to the gate sentries as you're passing through or call 911," advises Blount. "Just don't assume somebody has already reported it and leave it at that."
Security force augmentees carry this same mentality far beyond the end of their training. Equipped with knowledge of Integrated Defense, or total force awareness, they become first-line defenders in their workplaces too. The augmentee program is a real force multiplier, as these Airmen disperse their new knowledge to peers, supervisors, and leadership to strengthen the innermost security of the base.
"At our graduation ceremony, several new augmentees related that after going through the training, they had a deeper appreciation, both physically and mentally, on the challenges of being a security forces member and a greater respect of the career field's commitment to securing people and resources 24hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week under any conditions," Brainard said.