From Iraq to the homeland: JSTARS Security Forces ramps up domestic enforcement skills

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Roger Parsons
  • 116 ACW Public Affairs
JSTARS cops from the Georgia Air National Guard's 116th Air Control Wing were guests at Joint Base Savannah, completing 15 days of  law enforcement and flightline security training during their annual tour in June.

"Our training scenarios have been designed to get our Airmen out of the mentality of being overseas in places like Iraq and into actively policing on a military installation." said Master Sgt. Richard Ross, 116th SFS non-commissioned officer-in-charge of standards and evaluations. "Being a Guard unit, we are not only responsible for the airbase ground defense posture in a deployed location, but also flightline and law enforcement in a domestic capacity when called upon."

Security forces from the host unit, the 165th Airlift Wing, stepped aside and offered their base as a training hub.

"This exercise gave us the opportunity to not only support our sister unit but also complete standards and evaluation training crucial in prepping our Airmen to support stateside and combat commanders," said Chief Master Sgt. William Greenway, 116th Security Forces Squadron manager.

With a number of overseas deployments under their belts, this year's annual training gave the unit a chance to work on another aspect of their career field.

To enhance the training experience, security forces personnel put their acting to the test in role-playing exercises.

"One of the things we've been doing is having our guys play the role of both cops and perpetrators during scenarios," said Greenway. "They actually learn more because they experience the events from the side of the perpetrators and learn what not to do in their normal role as defenders."

As multiple simulated security threats played out each day, 116th SFS personnel were seen across the base challenging simulated perpetrators unlawfully entering the flightline, performing law enforcement traffic stops, applying use of force procedures to deescalate tense situations with drunken and disorderly individuals, completing suspicious vehicle searches and responding to suspected criminal activities.

It was a normal occurrence during all hours of the day to see 116th SFS Airmen; playing the role of aggressors, detained and handcuffed as their counterparts were evaluated on how they handled each situation.

Airman 1st Class Devajia Saucier; attending his first annual tour since joining the unit in November, shared his experience after finding himself handcuffed and face down on the concrete for unauthorized entry to the flightline.

"I learned that the training we did in technical school was a whole lot slower than the real-world type of events we've done here," said Saucier. "Once our cops guarding the flightline saw me enter the secure area illegally, they were on me quick." The training here taught me to stay active on my feet, go with the flow and do my best regardless of what's thrown at me."

Further enhancing the training, experienced leaders from the unit acting as evaluators, conducted a hot wash immediately following each scenario.

"During the hot wash, all the players learn what they did right and areas that need improvement," said Greenway. "They hear from our evaluators and give their input as well so everyone learns from each other during the training events."

According to Senior Master Sgt. James Miller, the 116th SFS operations superintendent and one of the evaluators, the training scenarios played out exactly the way he expected.

"I knew our folks were prepared and I expected them to excel and they didn't disappoint us," said Miller.

Miller shared an approach to training that he attributes to their success.

"Our method of training from the top to bottom provides the experience that enables our junior NCOs and Airmen to step into roles senior to their position in exercise and real-world events," said Miller.

Their methodology was put to test as two senior NCOs were removed from the training exercise due to real-world situations.

In both cases, staff sergeants immediately stepped into master sergeant flight chief roles and the mission continued without a hitch according to Miller.

"About midway through our annual tour I arrived for my shift and found out my flight chief had returned home for a family emergency," said Staff Sgt. Ashleigh Gray. "I immediately assumed his role and was evaluated as the flight chief that same night. I felt comfortable during the evaluations and everything went well."

After two weeks of 24-hour a day operations, with daytime temperatures nearing 100 degrees a day, the 116th cops wrapped up another successful annual tour with a celebratory burger burn.

"Our Airmen have exceeded our expectations during the training exercises," shared Greenway. "Their attitudes have been consistently positive, despite the temperatures and long hours."

The chief also attributed the success of the training event to the hospitality provided by the 165th Airlift Wing and The Air Dominance Center in loaning the use of their base to the 116th SFS.

"Joint Base Savannah . . . is smaller than Robins so we were able to conduct more scenarios in less time enabling our people to get more real-world type training opportunities," said Greenway.