Mildenhall SFS Airmen train with Army soldiers

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Through the eyes of Air Force Staff Sgt. David Brown, deployed from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., the mission of the security forces has changed since the beginning of the war in Iraq. After all, this is his eighth deployment since Operation Iraqi Freedom started.
As a sign of things to come, Airmen from the 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron were kicking down doors while going through military operations in urban terrain training at Camp Buehring May 19. 

“We’re trying to be more than gate guards,” said Airman 1st Class Kendal Hudson, 386th ESFS, who is deployed from RAF Mildenhall. “We’re going out and clearing buildings, helping the Army with the convoys and patrolling cities.” 

The security forces unit, based out of an air base in Southwest Asia, is responsible for conducting security patrols on the airplane runways and base law enforcement. However, these troops find time to train on other aspects of their profession. 

“Its unique training that troops don’t get at their home station,” said Master Sgt. John Ward, 386th ESFS training noncommissioned officer in charge, who is deployed from the Idaho Air National Guard. 

“They can get it at this unique training environment that we’re taking advantage of,” he said. 

“We have guys coming from guarding missiles, doing camp security or patrolling,” said Tech Sgt. Kris Green, 386th ESFS squad leader, deployed from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. 

“This training allows guys to get on the same page and get everyone on the same tactics. We don’t train with the same guy we go to war with and that’s what we’re doing now,” he said. 

However, this is nothing new to Sergeant Brown and other senior NCOs in the unit. Serving his eighth deployment of four months or longer, Sergeant Brown has seen the transition in the Air Force security forces mission. 

“When people think of Air Force, they don’t think of guys on the ground, kicking down doors, searching buildings, doing Army-type work,” said Sergeant Brown. “When people see us doing it, it’s an eye opener.” 

He added, “We’ve adapted. On my first few deployments we would see other services but never work with them. Lately, we have been working side-by-side with Army, Navy and Marine expeditionary units.” 

The training consists of a four-man team running into buildings with simulated rounds and detaining insurgents. 

As the teams moved swiftly through rooms with hostages, each member worked together, keeping their heads down and backs covered. 

“This training keeps them putting their heads up,” Sergeant Brown said. “It hurts when you get hit from a simulation round, so you keep your head down and you won’t get hit.” 

“The training seems pretty realistic,” said Airman 1st Class Justin Scott, 386th ESFS, deployed from RAF Mildenhall. “I’ve never cleared a building before.” 

“It’s different from what we normally do,” Airman Hudson said. “It’s a different experience doing these exercises live.” 

Not only has the squad conducted urban terrain training, but they have fired at the ranges and will be conducting more convoy related exercises in the near-future. 

Finding time in between their daily 14-hour shifts, the next step will be training on the HMMWV egress assistance trainer, Sergeant Ward said. 

“This training and anything we previously learned will be beneficial if we went into Iraq,” Hudson said. 

Not only is it benefiting this unit, Airman Scott said, it’s a sign of things to come for the Air Force security forces in their role in the war on terrorism. 

“It’s sending a message of support,” he said. “We’re here to support the Army and the Marines, to take the pressure of their shoulders and try to get some of them sent home to see their families.” 

Airman Scott added, “All military branches should pull their own weight and that’s what we’re doing.”