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Technology, training force multiplier for security forces Airmen

by Tech. Sgt. Gloria Wilson
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

6/17/2008 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- While security forces members receive training in technical school, the multiple threats faced by members today requires continual sharpening of their skills.

Airmen from the 354th Security Forces Squadron here participate in daily flight-level exercises as well as mandatory squadron training. The Airmen go through scenarios such as high-risk traffic stops, alarm activations, domestic disturbances, bomb threats, gate runners and hostage situations.

"Waiting until something happens isn't the time to figure out what needs to be done so we train and practice," said Capt. Jason Daniels, the 354th SFS operations officer. "With the rate of contingency deployments we are also counting more on technology. Our Airmen have stepped up to the challenge and have learned to use other assets available, making them a lean, exceptionally capable force."

In addition to what most security forces members do on a day-to-day basis, specialized emergency response training is conducted. The Eielson Air Force Base Special Emergency Response Team is the military equivalent to a civilian special weapons and tactics, or SWAT, team.

SERT members specialize in hostage situations, barricaded subjects, counter-terrorism and any situation where their unique skill set can be used in defense of Eielson Air Force Base, said Tech. Sgt. Dennis Keller, a 354th SFS flight chief.

There is a stringent selection process to become a SERT member, said Master Sgt. Shawn Cox, Eielson AFB's SERT team chief. They have to have the right personality, be physically fit, be able to think on their feet and be dedicated. They must exceed in all areas.

Sergeant Cox said he has full confidence in their abilities and that they train for common scenarios as well as the unexpected. "SERT is there to get the bad guys, and I'm confident that's what they'll do when needed."

Staff Sgt. Dean Martinez, currently an Eielson AFB SERT member, has had his share of training, he said. He was also a member of the SERT team at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, for five years.

"I have trained with civilian SWAT, FBI, police departments, other military branches and more," Sergeant Martinez said. "The various courses I've gone to and the experiences I've gained have made me more confident, increased my abilities and knowledge and prepared me for what, at times, can be a controlled chaos environment."

SERT members also have tools to make their job easier, such as ram breeching devices and bulletproof shields.

The base also has cameras that offer a 360 degree view and zoom in and out with the touch of a button, helping the 354th SFS members to remain vigilant without leaving the office.

Senior Airman Dawn Tavenner, an Emergency Communication Center dispatcher, is one of the Airmen who controls these eyes.

"We have a large number of cameras on base," Airman Tavenner said. "They're great, we can zoom in on license plates and even use the camera to assist with vehicle searches. It's that detailed."

The cameras cover various areas all over base and even the Richardson highway.

Captain Daniels said the cameras on base are a great force multiplier and help the 345th SFS members to assess a situation and have an idea of what's going on before boots are even on the ground.

"In today's day and age the main thing is quality not quantity, you can't substitute the value of a trained Airmen," Captain Daniels said. "The combination of technology, the specialized training available to us, and the caliber of our Airmen makes us more than capable to accomplish our mission."

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