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Young Airmen protect base, people

by Tech. Sgt. Michael Dorsey
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

5/9/2005 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) -- Cops. They are everywhere -- on the flightline, on the roadways, at the entry control points, in the search pits. They work the beat on base and beyond -- and take their role supporting the war on terrorism seriously.

“The most important thing we must (do) is to remain focused,” said Master Sgt. Donovan Holdway, noncommissioned officer in charge of special security for the 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. “If we lose focus while performing any part of our mission, the consequences can be extreme.”

Base defense is vital to ensuring the protection of people, equipment and resources at a forward-deployed location. Protecting it is a huge responsibility, but the young security forces Airmen are more than ready to meet the challenge, said Tech Sgt. Richard Barker, the squadron’s NCO in charge of resource protection.

As the military changes and evolves, much is expected of young Airmen early on -- especially in security forces, he said. Not only do these Airmen enforce standards, but he said they ensure the safety and security of others. Sometimes it means responding at a moment’s notice to maintain the peace or to diffuse a dangerous situation.

“When you think about what goes into making a decision like that, you can get a real appreciation for what they are being asked to do,” Sergeant Barker said.

“(Sept. 11, 2001) changed the way we do business,” he said. “More is expected of everyone. The senior (leaders) plan the fight and how we take it to the enemy, but the Airmen and young NCOs are the ones who execute the plan and ensure we all go home at the end of our deployments.”

One example is Airman 1st Class Amanda Concepcion. At the search pits, she examines all vehicles before they are allowed access to the base to ensure they do not contain explosives.

“You have to be focused and always be on your toes,” said Airman Concepcion, deployed from Tinker AFB, Okla.

Airman Concepcion has worked flightline security at Tinker, and while here has worked sentry duty at entry control points and the search pits. With only a year of experience in the career field, she said she saw this deployment -- her first -- as a career broadening opportunity, so she volunteered.

By contrast, Sergeant Barker is no stranger to deployments. During his 17-year career, he has deployed seven times, and he said this is the safest he has ever felt.

“It’s a reflection of the wing and the stance (leaders) take on security and force protection … still, the threat has kept me on my toes,” he said.

“Our enemy is not a conventional one, and is therefore harder to defend against,” Sergeant Barker said. “That creates a lot of new challenges for us, and that includes military bases (throughout Southwest Asia). Protecting our resources and people is our job.”

And it is a job Sergeant Barker said the young Airmen here are performing very well.

“One of the biggest things I like about the young troops in our career field today is their enthusiasm,” he said. “They have a lot of energy and are eager to do their part to make the mission happen. (These Airmen) are coming here and doing great things.”

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