News>Force protection escorts enhance security through vigilance
SOUTHWEST ASIA - Airman 1st Class Gregory Nunley and Senior Airman Catalino Vega, 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Force Protection escorts, sort through recyclable materials here July 22, 2010, to ensure that no one has thrown out sensitive items that may pose a risk to base security. Airmen Nunley and Vega are two of approximately 100 Force Protection escorts assigned to the 386th ECES/FP. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Laura Turner)
SOUTHWEST ASIA - Airman 1st Class Kenneth Silk, 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Force Protection escort, keeps an eye on a third-country national as he in-processes to the base here July 22, 2010. Airman Silk is one of approximately 100 Force Protection escorts assigned to the 386th ECES/FP. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Laura Turner)
SOUTHWEST ASIA - Airman 1st Class Robert Jones, 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Force Protection escort, looks for discarded classified documents and other sensitive material in a trash bin here July 22, 2010. Airman Jones is one of approximately 100 Force Protection escorts assigned to the 386th ECES/FP. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Laura Turner)
by Staff Sgt. Stefanie Torres
386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
8/10/2010 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- SOUTHWEST ASIA - A select group of Airmen from all over the world travel here with a wide range of expertise, but when they arrive at the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, they have with one major focus - eyes on security.
Approximately 100 Airmen representing 47 different Air Force career fields, are assigned to the 386th Civil Engineering Squadron's Force Protection Section. Despite their varied backgrounds, their primary function while deployed is to protect assets and personnel here, explained Tech. Sgt. Christopher Johnson, deputy flight chief of FP.
One way they accomplish that is by escorting the third-country nationals, or TCNs, who provide essential services on base, from laundry and food preparation to sanitation and trash removal. The TCNs are an essential part of the team here, but security concerns dictate that they not be granted free access to base facilities, Sergeant Johnson explained.
"The most important part of this job, as far as I'm concerned, is that we keep a watchful eye at all times," he said. "We make sure the TCNs don't leave our eyesight."
By doing that, the FP section makes sure TCNs aren't gathering information "that could be used to harm the people here," he explained. TCNs also are screened before they enter the base to ensure they don't bring unauthorized items to work. These items include "pens, paper, notebooks, cameras or anything that they are able to document the base with," he said.
But limiting what comes on the base is only half the battle. FP troops also monitor what leaves the base in trash bags. They regularly sift through garbage to ensure someone hasn't thrown away a classified document, old uniform, maps or other sensitive items. Sensitive materials that are recovered are forwarded to wing leadership for their awareness.
"These items add up and present a significant danger to us if they get into the wrong hands," said Sergeant Johnson, who notes that documents should be shredded and disposed of securely while other sensitive items like old uniforms need to be placed in one of the secure receptacles positioned around the base.
Master Sgt. Joshua Cloutier, FP flight chief, said more of the secure receptacles are being added.
"We are building extra boxes for alternative items, so there is no need to throw away secure items," he said.
Staff Sgt. Mike Ciacciaarelli, who oversees day-to-day operations in the FP section, is proud of the essential work his Airmen do, attributing their excellent performance to a positive team attitude.
"We have a great group of people here," he said. "We are really fortunate to be surrounded with great attitudes."
That's especially remarkable given the challenging conditions here. FP Airmen frequently work outdoors in temperatures exceeding 115 degrees, but they still maintain proper vigilance.
Sergeant Johnson, for one, has developed a new-found respect for FPs during his rotation.
"On previous deployments, I used to see these guys walking around, but didn't know what their job consisted of," he said. "But now that I know what all goes into their work, I have a great respect for what they do."