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Force protection Airmen keeps vigilance in the forefront

by Tech. Sgt. Phyllis Hanson
407th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

12/7/2007 - ALI BASE, Iraq (AFPN)  -- Up before dawn, an 80-member team made up of 51 different Air Force specialty codes is armed and ready to roll at Ali Base, Iraq.

The Airmen of the 407th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron force protection serve to support Operation Iraqi Freedom as third country national escorts.

Crew chiefs, finance personnel, welders and even some medical technicians stand ready at their posts, keeping a watchful eye on local Iraqi nationals and TCNs working at construction sites and performing custodial duties.

"Being part of the security forces squadron is completely out of my realm of experience," said Master Sgt. Aaron Renn, 407th ESFS force protection. "I didn't know if I'd be prepared. But, any assignment is what you make of it." 

The team of Airmen from different career fields have managed to blend in with their security forces brethren.

"The security forces members have taken us in, and treated us like a part of the team," said Sergeant Renn.

"Our job is routine, with moments of excitement. You have to be on your toes at all times," he said. These guys (TCNs and LNs) are here to support us. But we make sure that they are doing only that. One of our biggest jobs is preventing the workers from gathering intelligence. That is huge."

These Airmen stand guard at posts all around the base. Their days are long and tiring. But, these Airmen say it is all worthwhile.

"My career field doesn't deploy, so I volunteered for this," said Senior Airman Beau Gish, 407th ESFS. He is a nuclear weapons specialist at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.  "I've wanted to come over here ever since I joined the Air Force. I feel I'm helping make a difference. It has also given me a different understanding about the Iraqis and their culture."

"We provide security for our Air Force assets, and the people living and working here," Sergeant Gish said. "The best part about being an FP is that I know I'm helping to deter intelligence gathering."

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