Search barn keeps base, personnel safe and sound
By Senior Airman Christine Halan, 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 17, 2015
RAF MILDENHALL, England -- It's like walking into the principal's office, the fear of the unknown; the feeling most visitors endure when visiting the search barn on RAF Mildenhall, England.
Airmen from the 100th Security Forces Squadron and Ministry of Defence Guard Service personnel at the main gate are trusted and relied on to provide the best security and protection to those on base.
On an average day, officers inspect anywhere from 160 to 300 vehicles. Members inspect a range of cars including heavy-goods vehicles, contracting staff and visitors to the base.
Inspections consist of the vehicle being searched inside and out, and underneath the car as well with the naked eye. Part of the inspection process includes checking for valid road tax to ensure their documentation is current and legal.
"We also give each vehicle a quick once-over to make sure there's nothing inside that could be classed as a suspicious weapon," said Tech. Sgt. Robert Woodford, 100th Security Forces Squadron flight chief. "So we're looking for explosives, explosive-making materials, baseball bats, drugs or any other weapons."
He explained that items considered dangerous include knives over three inches or flammable items.
"So, if you're not a welder, why would you have bottles of fuel in the back of your vehicle, or a baseball bat under your seat if you're not on your way to play that sport?" said Woodford, adding that when a visitor is caught with a weapons such as a knife, the item is immediately disposed of.
Both the 100th SFS Airmen and MGS officers work closely with one another in order to protect the base.
"This is for our folks' safety, just in case the person whose vehicle is being inspected suddenly turn aggressive or tries to use force against our MGS partners," said Woodford. "This could happen, for example, if they suddenly remember they've left something in there they don't want us to find, and know there will be serious repercussions when we do find it. The fact that we're armed also acts as a deterrent in preventing people attempting to drive out of the search barn before they are cleared to do so."
For the British MGS staff and U.S. Air Force members, working hand-in-hand with one another can be a fulfilling experience.
"The MGS and 100th SFS members share a common spirit and ethos in getting the mission done to a high caliber," said. Christopher Bierton, 100th SFS/MGS security officer shift supervisor. "I feel a sense of pride when SFS members and MGS officers work together so well in a common cause. The MGS and SFS take great pride in being the first line of defence in protecting the base and populous, and know that our actions assist as a small part of the cog that keeps RAF Mildenhall at the top of its game in projecting a global reach for the U.S. Air Force and its allies."