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Security Forces Team Patrols Bagram Air Base

By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Lindsey, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, Dec. 1, 2004 – Air Force Airman Michael Roomsburg stopped the Humvee, as Air Force Staff Sgt. Chad Marten called to notify the command post that their team was set to patrol the outer perimeter road here.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Staff Sgt. Chad Marten (left) and Air Force Airman Michael Roomsburg, members of an external-security response team, keep watch on construction work taking place at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Lindsey, USAF

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

"I'll man the turret," said Roomsburg, an active-duty airman from Pope Air Force Base, N.C. The Muskegon, Mich., native then stepped up through the man- sized porthole and positioned himself behind the M-240 machine gun mounted on the vehicle roof.

"It's all yours, but you'll have to remind me where the turn-off is," replied Marten, an Air Force reservist deployed from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, as he hopped into the driver's seat.

The team sped off onto the road thick with fine dirt the consistency of cocoa- powder, creating a thick cloud around and behind the tactical vehicle.

"This is one of the most dangerous areas of the airfield we patrol, due to the fact that it's the most likely place an attack would happen," said Marten, who hails from Ogden, Utah. "We need to drive through quickly, but keep our eyes open for anything unusual and report it immediately."

The two-man team's primary mission is to ensure the base and Air Force assets remain safe. Their unspoken mission is to protect each other from harm, while providing base security.

Leaders of the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron instill the principle that "no one flies solo."

At technical school on Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, all security forces airmen commit three general orders to memory: protect personnel and property, report all violations, and sound the alarm in cases of emergency. Here, security forces also uphold a locally implemented General Order No. 4: "I am my brother's and my sister's keeper."

In a squadron of active-duty airmen and activated reservists deployed from six different stateside bases, maintaining esprit de corps is a must, said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Nathan Huven, squadron operations officer, an active- duty member deployed from Hill AFB.

"Whether we're Reservists or active-duty airmen, we're all security forces. We share a mutual bond and a teamwork mentality," said Huven, who hails from Monico, Wisc. "We all look out for each other here. This standing order reminds us to always keep an eye on our fellow security forces members, on and off duty."

Providing a secure environment for not only Air Force, but also for Army, Navy and Marine fixed-wing and rotary aircraft at Bagram Air Base holds its own unique challenges. A few marked differences include a higher probability of being shot at while on patrol, enduring rocket attacks on the base, carrying a firearm both on and off duty, and patrolling around mine fields.

Additionally, new team members must understand that some lower-ranking airmen may have more practical field knowledge because they have worked at the deployed location longer.

Flight chiefs make full use of this edge by pairing more experienced airmen with newer ones. Marten, who arrived on station a few weeks later than his counterpart, said he counts on the guidance offered by his fellow patrolman.

"It doesn't matter to me if it's an airman basic. If that person has more experience on the job than I do, I'm going to listen to what he or she has to say," said the sergeant, who had served in the active-duty Air Force and the Army Reserves before enlisting as an Air Force reservist.

Sometimes it's the "newbies" who offer the best advice, said Air Force Master Sgt. Anthony Frazier, squadron operations superintendent from Oceanside, Calif. "That's why flight leadership here encourages their troops to share ideas on how to improve unit operations. We get fresh eyes and new ideas with every rotation," explained the active-duty member deployed from Pope AFB. "My biggest fear is that we don't stay attentive to what's happening out there. We need the fresh eyes to keep us aware of what we can be doing better."

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