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First tactical security element training course held.

by Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Public Affairs

12/26/2007 - FORT DIX, N.J. (AFPN) -- True to their motto, "Airpower ... from the ground up," the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center's "Eagles" hosted the first session of the Air Force tactical security element training course recently.

Teaming with Air Force Office of Special Investigations agents, the TSE training course is designed to prepare security forces members for "outside the wire" missions in support of the OSI in deployed areas.

A team of seven security forces instructors from the center's 421st Combat Training Squadron, known as the Eagles, along with more than a dozen OSI instructors from the center and throughout the Air Force taught the course. Airmen from several Air Force regional training centers also attended to observe and document the training. Overall, nearly 100 security forces were trained in tactics, live-fire scenarios, mission planning and related training for their deployed mission.

Brig. Gen. Dana Simmons, AFOSI commander, said this effort not only highlights an important need, but it also shows Airmen are in the fight.

"This is a truly historic event for both security forces and AFOSI," General Simmons said. "In the past, we've teamed up for outside-the-wire type operations, but they've been ad-hoc at best. This is the first time security forces and AFOSI (agents) will be training together, working together and supporting one another for a very specific mission. We need their (security forcces) expertise to keep our agents safe in some very dangerous situations, so we can accomplish our mission.

"It's a win-win situation with the sole purpose of keeping Airmen alive," General Simmons added. "We're excited about this initiative and are looking forward to very positive results for the Air Force."

For the Eagles, helping build the course and teaching it was major source of pride.

"This is huge," said Master Sgt. Michael McHone, lead cadre member from the 421st CTS. "Tactical security elements are something brand new to the Air Force as a whole. I've known some security forces members who have done this mission before with the Army, but now to have a label on it and to have the training specifically for this mission means we are taking a step forward."

On Nov. 1, three OSI agents were killed by an improvised explosive device while working "outside the wire" in Iraq. Sergeant McHone said this training "shined a light" on the Air Force getting the security forces involved in protecting OSI personnel.

"They need security forces out there to do this so OSI (agents) can do their job," he said.

All security forces in the training were from the 824th Security Forces Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Capt. Pedro Jimenez, operations officer for the 824th, said being the first group selected for this training was an honor.

"It is always significant when a unit is selected to be part of a new and 'first-ever' mission," Captain Jimenez said. "The significance is only accentuated by the fact that we are not only part of this mission, but one of the driving forces behind the development of the mission concept and basic skill sets required for all follow-on personnel.

"We, as a unit, must strive to ensure that we honor this trust placed in our abilities," Captain Jimenez added. "However, the importance of any mission must not be overshadowed by the hype of a special mission. We must ensure that we don't breed a sense of entitlement among our Airmen. They must understand that it is only through the joint effort of all personnel that this special mission can be accomplished. No one mission is more important than another."

The specialized TSE training is not something security forces normally get in the security forces career field, said Tech. Sgt. Dustin Martin, a security forces technical school instructor from the 343rd Training Squadron at Lackland AFB, Texas, who assisted with the course.

"As security forces, we know our role is changing drastically in today's deployed environment," Sergeant Martin said. "With more and more security forces members deploying soon after they arrive at their first base, we need to give them a course like this where they can do some live fire, learn some tactics with OSI (agents) and get training from people like the center offers, where we can give them an advanced skill set, one that is more than what they would be getting at tech school."

In the security forces technical school at Lackland, new students are taught the basics of the career field, said Tech. Sgt. Brandon King, also a security forces instructor from the 343rd who, like Sergeant Martin, helped out with the training as well. Security forces who deploy soon after they complete technical school still need more training and the TSE training course is one of those that will make a difference, particularly when traveling beyond the gates of a forward deployed base.

"This group of students had many recent technical school graduates," Sergeant King said. "This kind of specialized training helps them to know what their mission is, which in this case is working with OSI. This is an excellent way to bring together mission requirements with training."

While Sergeants Martin and King took back a lot of information to bolster the security forces technical school training, Sergeant McHone said future courses in TSE training will likely be longer. He said he knows his fellow instructors are up for the challenge.

"Our instructors are doing great," Sergeant McHone said. "They're taking it and running with it just like we do anything. We're still gathering feedback from regional training centers around the Air Force to make this training even better the next time."

Future classes will have more lessons learned and academics, Sergeant McHone said. It will also likely have more instructors with recent deployed experience.

"We're also going to start sending our cadre down range with these TSE squads to get the experience and bring it back," Sergeant McHone said. "They'll actually be running the missions with them. It'll not only add credibility, but also it'll help provide the latest information we need to add to the course."

Maj. Gen. Kip Self, USAFEC commander, said the TSE training course is great example of how the center helps prepare Airmen for immediate wartime needs.

"We have the finest people preparing Airmen for the fight," General Self said. "This is what we're designed to do, and we're proud to do it. When you think about the Air Force, you think about airpower. When you think about the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center 'Eagles,' you need to think about airpower ... from the ground up."

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