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KAF security is top priority
Senior Airman Joshua Kocher stands guard on the Kandahar Airfield flightline Oct. 3. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Timothy Taylor)
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KAF security is top priority

Posted 10/5/2009   Updated 10/5/2009 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Angelique Smythe
451st AEW Public Affairs

10/5/2009 - KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- The 451st Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron remains vigilant in keeping Kandahar Airfield secured each day.  

The squadron is composed of Airmen who focus on three main missions: flightline security, fly away security, and tactical security.  

Airmen tasked to perform flightline security were recently joined with other NATO forces in May 2009.  Together, they guard $25 billion worth of warfighting assets.

"Before, the American would guard American assets, the French would guard French airplanes, and so on," said Master Sgt. Steven Ingrahm, noncommissioned officer in charge of flightline security. 

Now that they've pulled it all together into a NATO mission, Senior Airman Richard Menzel, flightline security constable said, "It puts more of a familiar face on security as opposed to just having the U.S. Air Force going down to talk to the Canadians, going down to talk to the British or the French.  We've got personnel from those countries working with us so we're everyone put together.  And instead of an adversary,  they see some of their own in us, and it's easier for them to work with us that way."

Normally, these security forces members would work under someone from their own nation.  Here, they work under a Belgian and Australian leader.  

"What's different about (Belgian 1st Lt. Wim Van de Wygaert, chief of flightline security) is his normal job would be outside the wire," said Tech. Sgt. Jerry Chandler, Command Kandahar Airfield flightline security manager.  "This is his first time actually working inside the wire and around the aircraft.  Usually, he does external security for the base, but now he's a part of internal flightline security."

With the exception of the U.S. Air Force security forces members, most people conducting this mission are performing outside of their normal specialties.  

"For most people we work with from other nations, this is an entirely new thing for them," said Airman Menzel.  "We have divers, firemen, medics,  explosive ordnance devices technicians, all from different countries, all consolidated to get this mission done."

"Which initially required training from our part in order to teach them about security," said Sergeant Ingrahm.

Their ability to tighten up security on the flightline has allowed for some major improvements.

Since there were no fence lines around the flightline several months ago, people would jog on the flightline; there was increased bicycle traffic; aircraft were vulnerable to being knocked by other vehicles; and there were difficulties with medical evacuation teams landing as vehicles would be continuously driving up and down the flightline.  

"When the medevacs can land, that's a life saved," said Sergeant Ingrahm.  "We've cut down the flightline intrusion from in the hundreds to possibly one or two a month."

They've taken complete control of the flightline, cut down risks posed to aircraft landing, and stand ready to provide security and immediate response for major aircraft accidents.  

The team of security forces members who guard cargo aircraft when needed wherever in the area of responsibility is called the Fly Away Security Team.  

This small group of individuals are similar to the Air Mobility Command Phoenix Ravens, who are specially trained security forces personnel dedicated to providing security for aircraft in austere environments away from their main base.  There is usually at least one Raven with the team, and the rest are regular security forces members.         

The members of the FAST team, who are all stationed at Fairchild AFB, Wash., have accomplished more than twenty missions since arriving to Kandahar a little more than one month ago.  And they keep their backpacks packed 24/7.  

"We're always ready to fly," said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Ray, FAST team leader.  "If a plane breaks, we have to stay with the aircraft." 

Every morning they receive information which tells them know if they'll be going out or not.  After receiving a mission brief, they'll assist the aircrew with pushing pallets, installing seats, or anything else that is needed until it's time to go.

"If we're doing aircraft security, as soon as the plane hits the ground and the doors open, we head to each side of the aircraft and secure it while it's on the ground," said Sergeant Ray.  "Before it takes off, we jump back on, close the door and take back off."

The team also conducts prisoner transports and flight deck denial.

The third group of security forces members is the tactical security element -- a group of security forces members who provide cover for Air Force Office of Special Investigations agents.  Their mission is to protect these agents as they conduct missions outside the wire.

These elite warriors who make up the 451st Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron remain vigilant 24/7 to ensure the safety of all 20,000 people on Kandahar Airfield.   

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