Securing The Red Line and Beyond
When the red flag billows at the 30th Security Forces Combat Arms Training and Maintenance section building, the safety’s off. That is to say at least, when the time comes for weapons qualifications.
For select members of 30 SFS on Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif., the importance of range safety, and sharing that importance with others, is paramount.
“When the red hat comes on, I’m not your friend, I’m not your buddy; I’m your instructor,” says Senior Airman William Boyce, 30th Security Forces combat arms instructor. “Afterwards, that’s a different story."
Boyce is just one of a small group of 30 SFS CAI responsible for training hundreds of Vandenberg Airmen and Guardians on a variety of weapons systems for deployments and their recurring qualifications.
His training stems from roughly five years of security forces experience, with most of his time notably spent at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina. There, he soared upon raven’s wings under Air Mobility Command’s Phoenix Raven program; one that hones the skills of select security forces members to provide protection for aircraft that transit between high-threat areas where security is often unknown.
“It was an intense opportunity to fly like that, but after a while I wanted to do something different,” said Boyce. “So, I chose Combat Arms. I like to understand weapons, how they work, and being able to train people to protect themselves.”
Boyce begins the training process by taking members who are due for reoccurring or deployment-specific training and verifying their needs. Once members arrive and sign-in, they are added to a documenting system called the Automated Readiness Information System, or ARIS.
Once approved by Boyce, members begin their classroom session to understand basic safety procedures, the weapon system they need training on and how to properly handle it. Given the unique nature of Vandenberg as a robust and efficient range and spaceport, training is also specialized for fellow Security Forces members to accommodate security and protection protocols before, during, and after launches.
“If worst comes to worst, you can’t really protect a rocket without a weapons system,” said Boyce. “This training keeps members up-to-date, trained, and capable of protection measures. Really what we’re here for is to make sure everyone is well-trained on their weapons.”
Having only arrived to Vandenberg earlier this year, Boyce draws inspiration from those who arrive for training, and sees each new person as an opportunity to embolden his own traits.
“This training allows me to open up to people, and for me to get to know my Vandenberg teammates. It’s great to see people make progress and succeed in their training. It’s my favorite aspect of the job.”
Looking forward to the future and making progress in his own life, Boyce has aspirations that continue beyond life at Vandenberg.
“I’d like to spend another two to three years as a combat arms instructor here then move on to another opportunity afterwards,” says Boyce. “If I had the chance, becoming a member of DAGRE (Deployed Aircraft Ground Response Element) would be a great opportunity.”
Proper training by security forces members like Boyce help build a lethal and ready force capable of competing, deterring, and fighting adversaries while protecting our base and local community. It is a team effort that Boyce is happy to acknowledge.
“My team and my leadership here have given me the time to feel mentally and physically ready to see the bigger picture and my part in it, while also building relationships with people who come for training,” said Boyce. “It’s helped me become a more well-rounded person and I wouldn’t be nearly as effective without my team."