United States Air Force Security Forces

United States Air Force Security Forces
United States Air Force Security Forces
USAF Security Forces badge (black and white art).png
Security Forces Badge
Active As Military Police (1942 - 1948)
As Air Police (1948 - 1966)
As Security Police (1966 - 1997)
As Security Forces (1997 - Present)
Country United States of America
Branch United States Air Force
Part of Department of Defense
Department of the Air Force
Motto Defensor Fortis[1]
Beret Flash DefensorFortis.jpg
Occupation Badge United States Air Force Force Protection Badge.svg

United States Air Force Security Forces are the Military Police, Base Security and Air Base Ground Defense (ABGD) forces of the United States Air Force. Security Forces, or simply "SF", were formerly known as Military Police (MP), Air Police (AP), and Security Police (SP).



The Security Forces career field has a long, rich history which predates the inception of the Air Force in 1947. The invention of the aircraft and its subsequent military use required a protective force to guard the aircraft and defend the people who fly and fight. In 1921, Italian General Giulio Douhet said, "It is easier and more effective to destroy the enemy's aerial power by destroying his nests and eggs on the ground than to hunt his flying birds in the air." Security Forces are, and have been, that protective force.

Military Police

Army Air Force Military Police colored unit at Columbus, Georgia in April 1942.

In early 1943, the first Army Aviation Military Police Companies were established from existing Army MP units. The USAF Security Forces lineage can be traced to its beginning in WWII with the German blitzkrieg. Blitzkrieg relied on swift attacks by land and air. One of the tactics employed by blitzkrieg was the use of paratroops and airborne forces to capture or destroy in advance, air bases. A key turning point in air base defensive thinking came with the loss of the island of Crete to German forces and the subsequent capture of the British air base at Maleme in 1941. This single action led then, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, to study British air base defense policy and in condemning memo to the Secretary of State for Air and to the Chief of the Air Staff dated June 29, 1941, Churchill stated he would no longer tolerate the shortcomings of the Royal Air Force (RAF) in which half a million RAF personnel had no combat role. He ordered that all airmen be armed and ready “to fight and die in defense of their air fields.” That every airfield should be a stronghold of fighting air-ground men and not “uniformed civilians in the prime of life protected by detachments of soldiers.”[2]

On February 12, 1942 the United States adopted the British air defense philosophy. It was then Army Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall, approved the allocation of 53,299 blacks to the Army Air Forces with the “stipulation that air base defense ‘for the number of air bases found necessary’ be organized and that Negro personnel be used for this purpose as required.” This order formed the Army Air Forces (AAF) air base security battalions in June of 1942 and was influenced by racial as well as military considerations. Units were deployed throughout the European, Asian and African theaters and designed to defend against local ground attacks. These units were armed with rifles, machine guns, and 37-mm guns. Of the initial planned 296 air base security battalions, 261 were to be black, however, the widening Allied superiority of air and ground had reduced this threat and resulted in a diminished need for this goal and by 1943 inactivation of units formed had already begun. In 1945 all AAF air base security battalions were closed.[2]

Air Police

The National Security Act of 1947 established the current United States Department of Defense or DoD and formed the United States Air Force from the Army Air Forces as a separate service.[2] MP units serving with the Army Air Corps before this separation were transferred to the Air Force. The Army-Air Force agreement of 1947 stated that “each department will be responsible for the security of its own installations.” However, the agreement made no mention of an Air Force ground combat mission. Furthermore, the Key West Agreement of April 21, 1948 identified base defense as one of a number of functions common to all of the military services, yet, nowhere in the agreement was the assignment of the Air Force to defend its own bases.[2] On January 2, 1948, General Order No. 1 from Headquarters USAF designated those transferred units and personnel as "Air Police" (AP). On 1 September 1950, the first Air Police school was established at Tyndall AFB, Florida.

In June 1950 the Air Force began urgent operations focused on air base defense with the outbreak of the Korean War. A buildup of ground combat forces began. The center of this buildup was the expansion of the Air Force Air Police from 10,000 in July 1950 to 39,000 in December 1951. Still, one year into the war, the Air Provost Marshal reported that “the Air Force is without policy or tactical doctrine for Air Base Ground Defense.” In haste, Air Police serving as the cadre of this force were outfitted with armored vehicles, machine guns, and recoilless rifles. Air base defense was officially implemented by Air Force Regulation (AFR) 355-4 on March 3, 1953. AFR 355-4 defined air base defense “as all measures taken by the installation commander to deny hostile forces access to the area encompassing all buildings, equipment, facilities, landing fields, dispersal areas and adjacent terrain.” However, the regulation did not include provisions for sustained ground defense operations. Performance of this mission fell to the provisional base defense task forces to be organized and equipped like infantry. It was the Strategic Air Command’s (SAC) October 1952 edition of the SAC Manual 205-2 which rejected the notion that the USAF’s ground defense mission conflicted with Army functions. SAC officials felt that success of the Air Force mission might require point defense elements which the Army could not afford to protect, much less have the Air Force rely on the Army to come to the rescue. Though at times some 32,000 to 35,000 North Korean guerrillas were operating in United Nations controlled territory they ignored US air bases. This would not be the case for USAF Air Bases in the Republic of Vietnam.[2]

In 1952, the Air Police school was transferred to Parks AFB, California and redesignated as the "Air Base Defense School" to emphasize on air base defense capabilities. It soon became evident the emphasis on air base defense was not making much headway. On October 13, 1956, Air Police training was transferred to Lackland AFB, Texas where it evolved into Security Police training and eventually became the US Air Force Security Forces Academy.

On November 1, 1964, between the 12:25 and 12:33 AM, Vietnamese Communist (VC) troops attacked Ben Hoa Air Base with six 81-mm mortars positioned about 400 meters north of the air base. The VC fired 60 to 80 rounds into parked aircraft and troop billets then withdrew undetected and unabated. The attack killed 4 US military personnel, wounded 30, destroyed and/or damaged 20 B-57 bombers. U.S. air bases had become targets and became routine targets thereafter. The Air Force was not equipped to deal with this type of ground attack threat. The U.S. Army was cited as being tasked to control the security of the area around the air base and after action scrutiny along with politics served to foster distrust and jealousy between services and chains of command. As a result, air bases in South Vietnam were left vulnerable. By striking at USAF air bases the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and VC employed Giulio Douhet's military concept which stated the only effective way to counter air power was to destroy its bases on the ground. This concept has also been proven effective during the Indochina War, from 1946–1954, when the Viet Minh regularly attacked French air bases and were successful.[2]

The NVA/VC routinely reconnoitered U.S. air bases for lengthy periods and assessed them for vulnerable points which included terrain, reinforcement approach routes, reaction time of artillery support, and the daily routines of U.S. personnel which included their sleeping and eating times, patrol operations and guard shift changes. However, as good and exact as their reconnaissance was, their failure and/or inability to chart Security Police patrol patterns became evident in one case when their presence was detected by a USAF Sentry Dog Patrol and a Security Alert Team which lead to their capture. During another incident, nine Sappers, well-trained and highly disciplined combat engineers, failed to locate Security Police postings on the flightline. The anxious Sappers met their end when they tried to enter the parking ramp by passing directly in front of a SP machinegun emplacement.[2]

The USAF Sentry Dog program was a product of the Korean War. By 1965 the USAF had a pool of sentry dog teams available for deployment to South Vietnam. Nightly at every air base, sentry dog teams were deployed as a detection and warning screen in the zone separating combat forces from the perimeter. Nearly all air base defense personnel agreed that the Sentry Dog Teams rendered outstanding service. Some of which went as far as to say “Of all the equipment and methods used to detect an attacking enemy force, the sentry dog has provided the most sure, all inclusive means”.[2]

In response to the threat to air bases, it was the Safe Side Program under the Seventh Air Force approved by the Chief Staff which created a 226-man 1041st USAF Police Squadron (Test) trained in using the M-16 rifle, M-60 machinegun, and air base ground defense tactics. After their initial deployment to Vietnam, the Safe Side participants were used as instructors and cadre for future units. All were oriented toward US Army Ranger operations, much of which did not necessarily directly apply to Air Base Ground Defense (ABGD) such as long-range recon/ambush, land navigation, stream crossing, and rappelling.

Security Police

USAF security policemen (Far left: Amn Marc Joel Berger) from Tan Son Nhut Air Base, watch for Viet Cong infiltration attempts along the base perimeter, during the Vietnam war.

In 1966, the name of the career field was changed to "Security Police" (SP) and the basic Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) from 771XX to 811XX. The term was considered descriptive, concise and uniformly applicable as it combined two main mission elements: Police and Security functions.

In 1968, the Air Force accepted the Safe Side Program's recommendation to establish 559-man Combat Security Police Squadrons (CSPS) organized into three field flights. Three CSPS were activated, trained and deployed in 179-day TDY rotations to South Vietnam. Troop ceilings on forces in South Vietnam did not permit permanent assignment of a CSPS until 1970. On March 15, 1968, the 821st CSPS began training at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii and was in place at Phan Rang Air Base on its TDY deployment by April 15. The 822nd CSPS was organized, more completely trained, and replaced the 821st in August 1968. The 823rd CSPS was trained at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky and replaced the 822nd in March 1969. Over time, the Air Force Security Police would hone their ground combat skills and tactics based on these initial squadrons and lessons learned in combat.[2]

In March 1971, the security police career field was split into two separate functions: Law Enforcement and Security specialties. Law Enforcement personnel provided the typical "police" response to safeguard personnel and property while Security personnel preformed duties associated with physical security, the flight line and weapons storage areas. The standard issue sidearm for Security Police was the Smith & Wesson Model 15 Combat Masterpiece in caliber .38 Special with a 4-inch barrel, firing M41 .38 ball ammunition. Security Forces train for 13 weeks.

In 1996, the Khobar Towers Bombing lead to the reassessment of the force protection and Security Police mission and ultimately laid the foundation for the career field transformation into the current Security Forces. Security Police members SSgt Alfredo Guerrero, SrA Corey Grice and A1C Christopher Wager received the Airman's Medal for their actions prior to and after the terrorist attack.[3] Secretary of Defense William J. Perry stated "...the Khobar Towers attack should be seen as a watershed event pointing the way to a radically new mindset and dramatic changes in the way we protect our forces..."

Security Forces

As threats to the world security changed, so did the requirements for security police to better respond to worldwide contingencies and protect Air Force resources. Specialized fields with single skills could no longer meet AF needs. Consequently, Air Force Chief of Staff directed SP staff to reorganize the entire career field. In April 1997, three distinct career fields or Air Force Specialties (Air Force Specialty Code - AFSC) merged to become "Security Forces" (SF). Security Specialist (AFSC: 811X0), Law Enforcement Specialist (AFSC: 811X2) to include Military Working Dog Handler (AFSC: 811X0A), and Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (AFSC: 753X0). Upon completion of the merge, all SF personnel were reassigned AFSCs. The current AFSCs are as follows: Enlisted (3P0X1), MWD/K-9 (3P0X1A), CATM (3P0X1B), and Officers (31PX).

In 1997, the Air Force activated the 820th Base Defense Group, a Force Protection unit based at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. The unit is a trained force protection unit of 12 Air Force Specialty Codes with an airborne capability. At a moment's notice, the group provides one of expeditionary Air Force's worldwide deployable, "first-in", fully integrated, multidisciplined, self-sustaining force protection capability. There are few other Security Forces and force protection units in the Air Force with the extensive amount of training, diverse deployment history and multi-service validation as the 820th BDG.[4]

435th SFS, 435th Security Forces Squadron is a United States Air Force unit capable of overland airlift, air assault, or airborne insertion into crisis situations. The unit incorporates more than 13 different specialties including people with civil engineering, medical, intelligence, investigative, fuels, logistics, personnel and security skills. It was formerly known as the 786th Security Forces Squadron. In March 2003 the 786 SFS participated in a combat parachute drop into Bashur Airfiled in conjunction with the 173rd Airborne Brigade to open up the northern front in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 786 SFS is the first conventional Air Force unit to participate in an airborne jump. The 786th SFS was re-designated the 435 Security Forces Squadron on 16 July 2009, and falls under the 435 Contingency Response Group (CRG) (formerly 86 CRG).

1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron, 1st SOSFS, 1st Special Operations Wing. Some Special operations security forces are upgrading their training to protect high risk aircraft in deployed locations. Handpicked members of security forces squadrons from all over Air Force Special Operations Command are participating in a new training program called DAGRE (Deployed Aircraft Ground Response Element) to upgrade their combat skills to support future AFSOC deployments into contingency areas. During this inaugural 11-week course, security forces Airmen from the 352nd Special Operation Group, RAF Mildenhall, 353rd Special Operation Group, Kadena AB 27th Fighter Wing at Cannon AFB, N.M., 919th Special Operations Wing, Duke Field, FL and Headquarters AFSOC and 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron here, are learning advanced combat and shooting tactics and honing unarmed fighting and combat first aid skills. They have all received certification from the Air Force's PHOENIX RAVEN program which trains them to provide security for Air Mobility Command's aircraft in high threat areas. In between their combat courses and tough physical training regimen they are also taking classes at the Air Force Special Operations School here in anti-terrorism, counter insurgency and other specialized courses. This further prepares them for scenarios they will find in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hot spots around the globe. The training culminates with an 8-mile tactical road march into a scenario where each team will be required to showcase their new skills in an austere environment under hostile conditions.


General Orders

Security Forces members are required to know and adhere to three general orders which form the foundation of their duties. These orders apply to every assigned post or patrol they will ever assume. The general orders are as follows:

  1. I will take charge of my post and protect personnel and property for which I am responsible for until properly relieved.
  2. I will report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce and call my superiors in any case not covered by my instructions.
  3. I will sound the alarm in any case of disorder or emergency.

Security Forces Motto

The motto of Security Forces is the Latin phrase "Defensor Fortis". The United States Air Force maintains the SF motto means "Defenders of the Force" which characterizes the function of Security Forces as the Defenders of the Air Force. The literal meaning of the motto translates to "Defender of the Mighty One".[5]

Security Forces Creed

Before the Airman's Creed replaced all other AF creeds, the career field had the Security Forces Creed, a promise to the United States, the Air Force, individual SF members and all those who came before. It is a promise to honor the past, protect the present and secure the future. It is a promise to be ready to act and to live the ideals that will guide the actions of SF members. The creed is recited as follows:

"I am a security force member. I hold allegiance to my country, devotion to duty, and personal integrity above all. I wear my shield of authority with dignity and restraint, and promote by example high standards of conduct, appearance, courtesy and performance. I seek no favor because of my position. I perform my duties in a firm, courteous, and impartial manner, irrespective of a person's color, race, religion, national origin, or sex. I strive to merit the respect of my fellow Airmen and all with whom I come in contact."

Security Forces Prayer

In 1980, Colonel Jerry Bullock, an ordained minister, wrote the official Security Forces prayer while serving with Brig Gen WIlliam R. Brooksher as the deputy commander of the Air Force Office of Security Police. The prayer is recited as follows:

"Lord, you have called us to be guardians of a nation founded on Your principles. Whatever our tasks as Security Force men and women, we do them to serve You and our nation. We are proud to accept the responsibility of this high calling. We dedicate ourselves to our vocation, and ask for guidance and courage in aiding our people to live with dignity, in safety and peace. We know true security comes from your presence, so we pray with the Psalmist: You bless those who obey You, Lord; Your love protects them like a shield. Use us, O Lord, as shields for Your people, reflecting Your security and peace."

United States Air Force Base Honor Guard

United States Air Force Base Honor Guard origins can be traced to May 1948 when Headquarters Command, United States Air Force, directed the creation of an elite ceremonial unit comparable to that of the other services. A ceremonial unit was activated within the 1100th Air Police Squadron at Bolling AFB, Washington, D.C., with the responsibility of maintaining an Air Force ceremonial capability in the National Capital Region. 24 years later, USAF HG officially became a separate squadron in 1972 and has remained at Bolling AFB to this day.

Unique Uniform Items

Security Forces Shield

In 1959, General Curtis E. LeMay, the USAF Vice Chief of Staff, issued the first official AP shield to Brig General R. F. Burnham, the Air Provost Marshal. The shield actually started out as a Military Police/Air Police Brassard, but repeated requests to Air Force Headquarters finally resulted in the Air Force approving the first trial issue shield in 1957. Instead of the conventional police badge design, which most police units use today, the Security Police shield is unique in shape. The shield was later incorporated into a cloth design in the 1970s for use with the fatigue uniform and subsequently use with the Battle Dress Uniform. Leather nametags with the embossed shield were used in the early 1990s but were soon phased out.

The current shield was adopted in 1966, the birth year of the Security Police. It consists of a three-element design derived from the Great Seal of the USAF, surmounting a circular body representative of a warrior's battle shield, symbolic of the protection Security Forces provide to Air Force personnel and assets.

Individual elements of the design symbolize Air Force strengths and traditions. The American bald eagle, taken from the crest on the Great Seal, is the symbol of the United States and air striking power. The cloud formation depicts the creation of a new firmament, and the wreath on which the eagle is perched, composed of six alternate twists of silver and blue, incorporates the colors of the basic shield design. The coat of arms shield of the Great Seal, divided by the nebuly line formation representing clouds, is charged with the heraldic thunderbolt. The thunderbolt portrays striking power through the medium of air.

Blue Beret

A member of the USAF Security Forces (173d Security Forces Squadron)

The Strategic Air Command's Elite Guard, an Air Police unit first established in December, 1956 to provide security at USAF SAC headquarters, was the first USAF unit officially authorized to wear a blue beret (with affixed SAC patch) in 1957 as part of their distinct Elite Guard uniform.[6][7] The Elite Guard's dark blue serge wool beret was worn on duty, at both guard and ceremonial functions, from 1957 onwards.[8][9][10]

In 1966-67, during Operation Safe Side, the first Security Police beret was issued by the 1041st Security Police Squadron. This experimental and specially trained Air Base Ground Defense (ABGD) unit adopted a light blue beret displaying a falcon as its emblem. Operation Safe Side developed into the 82nd Combat Security Police Wing, consisting of three "combat security police" squadrons, but was inactivated in December 1968, ending the unofficial use of the light blue beret.[11]

Elsewhere during the Vietnam War, although not an authorized uniform item, some local security police commanders approved a dark blue beret similar to the SAC Elite Guard beret for their units as an less-conspicuous alternative to the official white Security Police cover for certain specialized personnel. In Thailand during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Military Working Dog handlers assigned to the 6280th SPS at the Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base sported a dark blue beret with no insignia. Other units adopted a beret to distinguish their guards.[11]

In 1975 Brigadier General Thomas Sadler was appointed Air Force Chief of Security Police with the task of bringing the Security Police career field into the mainstream of the Air Force. One tool he employed was recognition of members of a distinctive portion of the force, with the beret proposed as a uniform change. Significant opposition to the beret from senior colonels and Major Command (MAJCOM) Chiefs was gradually overcome by the popularity of the concept with personnel. The uniform board approved the proposal, and the beret was officially worn worldwide starting in February 1976.[11][12]

The 1976 beret was worn with the MAJCOM crest of the appropriate major command to which the unit was assigned. It continued in this manner for 20 years until the forming of the Security Forces. In March 1997, the 82nd CSPW was reactivated and redesignated the 820th Security Forces Group. The heraldry of the 820th SFG then replaced the individual MAJCOM emblems as beret insignia.[11][13] Enlisted personnel wear the dark blue SF beret which bears the fabric SF "Flash" depicting a falcon over an airfield with the SF motto Defensor Fortis underneath. An officers "Flash" is similar in appearance but replaces the embroidered falcon and airfield with either metal "pin on" or embroidered rank.


Before the issue of the Security Forces Badge, Air Force Military Police and Air Police wore brassards. The brassard was a symbol of legal authority which identified the wearer as a Military Policeman. Despite the history behind the Military Police brassard, many Air Police of the time felt[citation needed] that it was a poor insignia of authority. The brassard was prone to wrinkle extensively during the course of duty and often slipped down the arm. As a result, Air Police leadership requested a shield to replace the brassard. To this day Air Force Security Forces still issues/utilizes the brassard at many deployed locations. In addition, some non-deployed bases issue brassards to specialty units such as Town Patrol and Customs. Generally, numerous[citation needed] SF members have negative or mixed opinions of the modern day brassards, pointing out the flaws of previously issued, and phased out, brassards.

Security Forces Training

ASVAB Qualification Requirements

Security Forces recruits are required to score a 33 General on the ASVAB.

Technical and Required Training

Following completion of Basic Military Training, Airmen in this career field undergo 65 academic days of technical training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, with the 343rd Training Squadron, known as the Security Forces Academy. Students learn the basics of missile security, convoy actions, capture and recovery of nuclear weapons, law enforcement, directing traffic and nonlethal tactics.[14] The Air Force Security Forces Center (AFSFC) organizes, trains, and equips Air Force Security Forces worldwide. Upon graduation of the Security Forces Academy, the SF member is awarded their Security Forces badge and blue beret bearing the fabric SF flash. After graduation the Airman is "PCS'd", or Permanent Change of Station, to their assigned duty location or various Security Forces Squadrons.

When Security Forces members arrive at any new duty location, they will receive base-specific training from their respective squadrons. This includes base policies, anti-terrorism measures, squadron standard operating procedures, etc. Security Forces members have to uphold a higher standard than any other career field in the Air Force. To attain fully qualified duty status you must pass a Quality Control (QC) Evaluation. The QC consists of multiple written tests, a verbal test and a practical evaluation on the previously listed training. In addition, SF members arriving at their first duty station are required to complete required on the job training and Career Development Courses.

Upon selection for promotion to Staff Sergeant, the SF member will be required to complete additional on the job training and another set of Career Development Courses. The member is also required to attend additional training at the Security Forces Academy.

Weapons Training

All Security Forces members are required to maintain qualifications on the M-4 Carbine and M-9 pistol. New Security Forces trainees receive training on the M-4 Carbine, M-9 pistol, M-203 grenade launcher, the M-249 squad automatic weapon (SAW) and the M-240B machine gun. Additionally, personnel may receive training on the M-2 heavy machine gun, MK-19 automatic grenade launcher, M24 sniper rifle, M-107 Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle or M870 shotgun. Security Forces may receive training on "less than lethal" weapons to include the ASP Expandable Baton, Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) and TASER. Weapons previously utilized by Security Forces/Police include the M16 Rifle, M29 81mm mortar, M67 recoilless rifle, M72 LAW, M1 Carbine or M2 Carbine (1947–1972), M-60 (1965–1998), S&W Model 15 .38 caliber pistol (1960–1990), XM148 (1966–1991), and M79 grenade launcher.

Specialty Training

Additional training may be available to Security Forces to assist in the progression and enhancement of their careers. Some of these schools consist of, but are not limited to: Tactical Automated Sensor System (TASS), Emergency Services Team (EST), Close Precision Engagement Course (CPEC), Advanced Designated Marksman (ADM), Phoenix Raven Course, Army Military Police Investigator Course (MPI), Army Air Assault School, Army Airborne school, Army Ranger School, Army Sniper School, Army Traffic Management and Collision Investigation Course, Army Anti-terrorism Evasive Driving Course Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) Defensive Driving school and various Special Weapons And Tactics SWAT schools.

TASS Operators consist of Security Forces personnel who complete a course on operation and maintenance of thermal imagery, sensors, and their components. Operators set up and provide surveillance to existing installations as well as mobile base camps. Operators use microwave, thermal, seismic, and 'trip-wire' sensors. Operators can also use a variety of camera systems such as CCTV systems, or the high tech military version, called the Wide-Area Infrared Surveillance Thermal Imager or WISTI. WISTI's can detect enemy movement by tracking body heat, or other heat resonances; or can be automatically routed to another sensor that goes off, in which the WISTI will automatically focus in and track the programmed sensor.

Emergency Services Teams (EST), which are the equivalent to civilian SWAT, have been trained and maintained by the Air Force since 1979.[15] EST members undergo special tactics training such as the Advanced Law Enforcement Training Division (ALETD) Special Reaction Team (SRT) Course (Phase 1 and 2) located at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. SRT Phase I is a SWAT entry-team course and Phase II covers sniper emplacement, marksmanship, and tactics. ALETD is run by the U.S. Army and provides the majority of specialty training for U.S. Army and Marine Corps Military Police as well as Air Force Security Forces and some civilian police departments. The original concept to develop the Air Force military version of SWAT, was conceived during discussions with the General SP staff about 1977-78. Then, a TSgt Thomas Herbert, who was an instructor at Lackland AFB during that time at the SP Academy, was sent to monitor and observe the LAPD SWAT course. After returning from various specialized schools, TSgt Herbert along with a cadre of instructors started teaching the "Tactics for Tactical Neutralization Teams" course in 1979, with TSgt Herbert being assigned at the course manager. In 1979, the course was revised and renamed the "Tactics for Emergency Service Teams", and a new course writer and manager, then TSgt Chalma Sexton took over as course chief. Under TSgt Sexton guidance, the EST School flourished until 1993, when the doors of the school were closed. During the years that the EST School was open, they trained many Air Force Security Police as EST Field Supervisors, who were tasked to return to the home station and develop and train EST teams. The primary role of the EST Field Supervisor was to provide the SP Commanders and Installation Commanders with a highly trained SP team capable of operating under high risk situations, and to develop a phase development approach to high risk situations.

Close Precision Engagement (CPE) and Advanced Designated Marksman (ADM) personnel, also known as counter-snipers, are trained on the use and employment of the M-24, M-107 and/or M-4 equipped with an Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG). Each sniper team consists of two people, the spotter and the shooter, which fulfill interchangeable roles within the team. The spotter’s responsibility is to assist the shooter to calculate target distance, wind direction, relative humidity and temperature then provide the shooter with corrections, or adjustments to the rifle optics, and record the results in the shooters Data of Previous Engagement (DOPE) book. The predecessor to the CPE course was the Security Police Sniper School. The Security Police Sniper School was started in 1996 by TSgt Ben Dolan a former Marine Scout Sniper and was conducted exclusively at Camp Robinson in Little Rock, Arkansas which is the birth place of the legendary Marine Corps sniper Carlos Hathcock. The Security Police Sniper Schools first "Top Shot" student team was TSgt William F. Heikkila and SSgt Fred Sobotka. The course is now conducted at several Air Force Regional Training Centers (RTC) throughout the United States. The 21 day CPE course instructs students on the operation of the M-24 and/or M-107 to include the fieldcraft required to expertly employ the weapon systems. The 14 day ADM course instructs students on the operation of the M-24 and M-4 equipped with an ACOG. The ADM course is a condensed or "watered down" version of the CPE course. The amount of fieldcraft training ADM students receive is significantly lower than CPE students which facilitates expedited qualification on the weapon systems under less stressful conditions.

Phoenix Raven is an Air Mobility Command (AMC) program, implemented in 1997, which consists of teams of specially trained Security Forces personnel dedicated to providing security for AMC aircraft that transit high terrorist and criminal threat areas. The Phoenix Raven program ensures an acceptable level of close-in security for aircraft transiting airfields where security is unknown or additional security is needed to counter local threats. The Phoenix Ravens sole training course is conducted by the 421st Ground Combat Readiness Squadron, Air Mobility Warfare Center (AMWC), Fort Dix, New Jersey. The intensive two-week, 14-hour-a-day course covers such subjects as cross-cultural awareness, legal considerations, embassy operations, airfield survey techniques, explosive ordnance awareness, aircraft searches, and unarmed self-defense techniques. Phoenix Raven training is designed to provide Security Forces members with the skills required for their unique mission and builds on the basic security force skills taught at the SF academy. The first Ravens graduated AMWC in February 1997. Since then, more than 700 Air Force Security Forces have graduated from the Phoenix Raven Course. Upon graduation, graduates are issued a lifetime numeric identifier for their accomplishment.[16]

Lateral Training

Security Forces may "Laterally Train" into two AFSC shreds, which are Military Working Dog Handler (MWD/K-9) and Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM). Since these are laterally trained career fields, completion of the Security Forces Academy is mandatory prior to applying for these positions. It may take up to five years to become eligible to apply for lateral training into these AFSC shreds. Once an application is submitted there is no guarantee the applicant will be accepted. This is based on the applicant's duty performance history, Air Force manning requirements and other "needs of the Air Force." These schools are taught at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

Military Working Dog Handler

A Security Forces dog handler attached to the Army's 3rd Special Forces Group in Afghanistan.

Military Working Dog Handlers (MWD), AFSC 3P0X1A, are units which are highly trained teams consisting of a SF handler plus a specially selected/trained drug or explosive detector dog. They provide the Air Force with the capability to enforce military laws and regulations, suppress the use of illegal narcotics, detect explosives and protect air bases around the world during peacetime, wartime and in support of operations other than war. The MWD's primary mission is to deter, detect and detain intruders in areas surrounding Air Force resources. The majority of all assigned working dogs are Belgian Malinois, a variety of the Belgian Shepherd Dog. MWDs provide a tremendous psychological deterrent to would be violators as they are trained to pursue, attack and hold (bite and hold) a suspect with or without commands from the handler.

MWD Handler training is conducted at the DoD Dog Center, Medina Annex, Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Until its deactivation in 1991 at Clark Air Base, Republic of the Philippines, the 3rd Security Police Group contained largest K-9 section in the Air Force. Clark AB was the largest USAF installation outside of the United States.

Combat Arms Training and Maintenance

Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM), AFSC 3P0X1B, are personnel who conduct marksmanship training to prepare all Air Force personnel for home station and deployment operations. Combat Arms specialists lead, manage, supervise and implement small arms weapons training programs. Their duties include operating firing ranges and associated facilities, enforcing range safety, inspecting/repairing weaponry, performing preventative maintenance, developing/utilizing training aides and determining training/maintenance resource requirements. Combat Arms personnel also provide training in safeguarding weapons, ammunition and equipment; instructing small arms weapons qualification training and providing guidance on weapons placement to SF and other ground defense force commanders.

Recent Events

Changes to Deployment Length and Training

The Air Force currently uses the Air and Space Expeditionary Force (AEF) concept to deliver versatile and responsive total force air and space power to meet the warfighter's global security requirement. The AEF concept is the Air Force's vision for the 21st century to organize, train, equip and deploy forces for contingency operations while remaining ready to meet national crises. The following events outline the USAF SF transition from 90 day to 179+ and 365 day deployments.

On August 4, 1998, Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael Ryan and Acting Secretary of the Air Force F. Whitten Peters announced the Air Force would divide its forces into a number of nearly equally capable AEFs. Those AEFs would provide combat power on a rotating basis to combatant commanders worldwide, leveraging Air Force combat capabilities to better meet the national strategic requirements and joint operational objectives. At this time, deployment lengths were 90 days.

In March 1999, operations in Kosovo slowed the implementation progress and threatened to delay and possibly stop the AEF program all together.

On January 1, 2000, the Air Force enters the 21st century by announcing all AEFs have been organized and implemented.

On September 11, 2001, the AEF concept was put to the test during the Global War on Terrorism with simultaneous deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Noble Eagle. In 2003, during the height of OIF/OEF/ONE, more than 107,000 Airmen were deployed, nearly twice as many as during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Since March 2004, the Air Force has provided airmen to serve combat support roles, despite the stress of working outside their usual duties. As a result, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley has sounded warnings about having airmen filling Army jobs they are not trained to do. Nevertheless, the Air Force steadily increased the number of Airmen serving in combat support roles for its sister services. The Air Force calls such missions “in lieu of” taskings, or ILO for short.[17]

On September 1, 2004, deployment lengths increased to 120 days to meet the rising demands of air and space power worldwide.

Prior to June 2005, Security Forces were tasked with 179+ and 365 day deployments in support of OIF/OEF/ONE.

In January 2006, Brig. Gen. Robert Holmes, Director of Security Forces and Force Protection, stated "We want to make our Airmen more proficient, and to do that, we need to adapt. We're going to change our training, our tactics and our procedures and the Air Force will be better for it." General Holmes calls these transformations a "refocus" on how Security Forces train and fight. General Holmes elaborated, "We're not in the Cold War anymore; we have to alter our mentality and our practices for today's reality. Because of the nature of the threat, our Airmen are fighting the global war on terror on the front lines, and we owe it to them to provide training, equipment and resources to be effective. Essentially, Security Forces will focus on preparing for their warfighting mission at forward locations, as well as security at a fixed installation. Our Airmen are going ‘outside the wire’ to conduct missions and are proving successful in keeping people safe." General Holmes also said one of the transformation goals is bringing security forces back in step with standard Air Force 120-day deployments. General Holmes explained, “Right now our folks are going out for 179-day rotations. Our Airmen need time to reconstitute and train. So it’s important to get them in line with the rest of the Air Force. We aim to do just that.” Overall, General Holmes said the changes would make Security Forces more effective and relevant to Air Force needs in the face of the current changing nature of warfare.[18]

In November 2007, it was announced that the Air Force was going to triple the number of Security Forces personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan to back-fill Army and Marines Corps mission tasks.[19]

In September 2010, the Air Force announced it was increasing all combat deployments to 179 days beginning in 2011. Lt. Col. Belinda Petersen, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Personnel Center, said the increase in deployment duration is an effort to “improve predictability and stability for airmen and their families.” Peterson added, by revising the policy, airmen affected by the change will also “ideally” get more time at home. The dwell time for those airmen is expected to increase from 16 to 24 months. Despite these “improvements”, Security Forces, civil engineers, contractors and intelligence are among the busiest in the Air Force, with six-month deployments, followed by only six months at home.[20]

Frankfurt International Airport Tragedy

On March 2, 2011, Senior Airman Nicholas J. Alden , 25, of Williamston, S.C., assigned to the 48th Security Forces Squadron at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England and Airman 1st Class Zachary R. Cuddeback, 21, of Stanardsville, Va., assigned to the 86th Vehicle Readiness Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany were shot and killed by 21 year old Kosovo native of Albanian descent named Arif Ukaat at Frankfurt International Airport, Germany.[21] Ukaat's relatives in Kosovo tell the Associated Press he's a devout Muslim and German federal prosecutors said they suspect he was motivated by extremist, Islamist ideology. A U.S. law enforcement official says the shooter shouted "Allahu Akbar", or "God is Great" in Arabic, as he opened fire. The Air Force says most of the airmen attacked were part of a Security Forces squad passing through Germany, on their way to a deployment in Afghanistan. In addition to the two dead, two other airmen were wounded.[22] President Obama stated the incident is a “stark reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our men and women are making all around the world to keep us safe and the dangers that they face all around the globe.”[23]

Operation Iraqi Freedom Casualties

As of May 30, 2011, 12 Air Force Security Forces members have died while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. These personnel total 22% of all Air Force casualties during OIF. Of those fatalities, seven were the result of hostile action such as small arms fire and Improvised Explosive Devices. The remaining five were the result of non-hostile action such as vehicle accidents and medical problems.[24]

Notable Members

George Carlin served as an SP in Minot North Dakota

See also


  1. ^ Latin phrase translation.com Literally, "Protector of the Powerful", but per Pinckney 148, intended as "Defender of the Force".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Fox, Roger P. (1979). Air Base Ground Defense in the Republic of Vietnam 1961-1973. Washington D.C.: Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force. p. 278. ISBN 141022256X. 
  3. ^ Defense.gov News Photos. www.defense.gov. Retrieved August 14, 2011
  4. ^ "820th factsheet". http://www.moody.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=4459. 
  5. ^ "Google Translate". translate.google.com. http://translate.google.com/#la. Retrieved 2011-05-21. 
  6. ^ Pinckney, Kali, Defensor Fortis: A Brief History of USAF Security And Those Dedicated Few Who Defend The Air Force At The Ground Level, Universal Publishers Press, ISBN 1581125542, ISBN 978-1581125542 (2003), pp. 37-38
  7. ^ Balcer, Ray (Col.), HQ SAC Elite Guard (April 2005)
  8. ^ Farewell To General LeMay Dinner, 11 June 1957
  9. ^ Balcer, Ray (Col.), HQ SAC Elite Guard April, 2005
  10. ^ World's Smartest-Looking Airmen Celebrate A Birthday, Omaha Evening World-Herald, 1 May 1962, p. 16: On 1 May 1962, the Evening World-Herald covered the fifth-year anniversary celebration at Offutt AFB of the founding of the SAC Elite Guard in 1957, complete with a photo of the ceremony clearly showing the Elite Guardsmen in their signature blue wool berets and bone-handled .38 revolvers.
  11. ^ a b c d "History of the Security Police Beret". Safeside Association. http://www.safesideassociation.org/blue_beret.html. Retrieved 21 January 2010. 
  12. ^ Pinckney 2009, p. 102
  13. ^ Pinckney 2009, p. 147
  14. ^ "Security Forces Training". Usmilitary.about.com. 2010-06-19. http://usmilitary.about.com/od/airforcetrng/a/sftraining.htm. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  15. ^ Pinckney 2009, pp. 111–113
  16. ^ "Air Force Security Forces - PHOENIX RAVEN". usmilitary.about.com. http://usmilitary.about.com/od/airforce/l/blraven.htm. Retrieved 2011-05-20. 
  17. ^ "AF to Triple Number of Airmen in Iraq". www.military.com. http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,156225,00.html. Retrieved 2011-05-20. 
  18. ^ "Security Forces Undergoing Transformation". usmilitary.about.com. http://usmilitary.about.com/od/airforce/a/sfchange.htm. Retrieved 2011-05-20. 
  19. ^ Scott Schonauer. "Air Force to triple number of airmen helping Army, Marines in Iraq - News". Stripes. http://www.stripes.com/news/air-force-to-triple-number-of-airmen-helping-army-marines-in-iraq-1.71140. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  20. ^ Jennifer H. Svan. "Air Force changes deployment lengths for some 42,000 airmen - News". Stripes. http://www.stripes.com/news/air-force-changes-deployment-lengths-for-some-42-000-airmen-1.118444. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  21. ^ "Air Force officials identify Frankfurt Airport shooting deaths". Af.mil. http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123245189. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  22. ^ "Deaths Of 2 U.S. Airmen Investigated In Germany". NPR. 2011-03-03. http://www.npr.org/2011/03/03/134222035/deaths-of-2-u-s-airmen-investigated-in-germany. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  23. ^ "U.S. Airforce Troops Shot And Killed In Germany, Obama Upset". AM 1450 KMMS – Bozeman's News Talk Leader. http://kmmsam.com/2011/03/03/u-s-airforce-troops-shot-and-killed-in-germany-obama-upset. Retrieved 2011-05-20. 
  24. ^ "Iraq Coalition Casualties: Military Fatalities". iCasualties.org. http://icasualties.org/Iraq/Fatalities.aspx. Retrieved 2011-05-30. 
  • Pinckney, Kali (2009). Defensor Fortis:The History of the Air Force Military Police, Air Police, Security Police, and the Security Forces. Lexington, Kentucky: PinckTank Publishing. ISBN 0-615-32829-6. 

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