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Security forces Airmen keep contraband off Kirkuk

by Tech. Sgt. J. LaVoie
506th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

8/8/2005 - KIRKUK AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) -- During the lunch-hour rush at a dining facility in Mosul, Iraq, a suicide bomber managed to penetrate base security and kill 22 Americans Dec. 21, 2004. Since then, American bases in Iraq have successfully increased security measures.

Every day, 506th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Airmen diligently work the search area at base entry gates to ensure the same type of attack does not take place here.

“Our mission is to effectively search and deter persons from entering with, or bringing on, unauthorized contraband and (improvised explosive devices),” said Staff Sgt. Marcos Garcia, of the 506th ESFS.

All people, vehicles and equipment that enter the base from the local area must pass through the search area. Everyone and everything goes through a complete search, from X-raying vehicles to ensure they do not have hidden compartments, to frisking each individual. After being searched, civilians are escorted during their time on base.

“If we didn’t conduct searches, anyone could bring anything on,” said Senior Airman Jeff George, of the 506th ESFS. “It allows us to bring local workers on safely so (they can) complete projects on base.”

The 506th ESFS Airmen find a variety of contraband on a daily basis, ranging from knives and weapons to pornography and alcohol.

“We are the first to encounter the vehicles and personnel on a daily basis,” Sergeant Garcia said. “It’s important we conduct thorough searches to protect the personnel and resources we have on this base.”

The language barrier and complacency are the two main obstacles security forces combat daily.

Many of the third-country nationals and local nationals entering the base do not speak English, and most 506th ESFS Airmen are not fluent in Arabic or Kurdish, resulting in difficulty communicating.

“You have to be able to give instructions, be able to tell (Iraqis) to open doors and panels,” Airman George said. “We become pretty fluent in hand signals.”

Complacency is something they fight every day.

“You see the same people come in every day,” Airman George said. “Just because you see someone every day doesn’t mean he’s a good guy. He could be waiting for us to get complacent, learning our search techniques.

“Even if he is a good guy, someone could have planted something on his vehicle while he’s parked off base,” he said.

Because of the potential threat, 506th ESFS Airmen remain vigilant to help ensure weapons and explosives do not make their way onto the base.

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