MILDENHALL, England - A young airman prepares himself for his
shift. Manning his post in the cold, his heart skips a beat as he
sees his commander approaching, knowing he'll need to deliver a
briefing. In that half second, his brain fires into high gear,
reviewing his training and creating a mental checklist.
mission is to protect, defend and fight. He thinks about the weapons
and equipment he's using, what his current post protects and
anything else the commander may need to know. In the span of a
single second, he's filled with the confidence he needs to deliver
A day in the life of a security forces
Airman can be frightening, stressful and outright nerve-racking, but
without them, the missions on RAF Mildenhall wouldn't be possible.
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Justin Aguilar, right, 100th Security
Forces Squadron flight chief from Escondido, Calif., delivers a
briefing March 6, 2014, during guard mount on RAF Mildenhall,
England. Prior to each shift, security forces airmen gather together
to receive updates, briefings and necessary information. (U.S. Air
Force photo by Airman 1st Class Preston Webb)
“Our Airmen are definitely the most valuable asset we
have,” said Master Sgt. Justin Aguilar, 100th Security
Forces Squadron flight chief from Escondido, Calif. “A brand
new airman, who's been in the military all of five months,
could be empowered with the responsibility of securing the
gate and the millions of dollars of assets on base.”
After passing through the gates numerous times a day, many
Team Mildenhall members may take gate guards for granted.
“You see someone out in
the cold, freezing, but people may not think about it.
Especially when something might happen where traffic could
get backed up,” said Senior Airman Michael Clarke Jr., 100th
SFS patrolman from Miami.
Gate guards serve as the
front line of defense against intruders who try to hinder
Team Mildenhall missions, Aguilar said. The 100th SFS
enables other squadrons on RAF Mildenhall to complete their
mission by providing a secure operating environment.
“Just their presence is a physical and psychological
deterrent to anyone who would try to gain access to our
installation,” Aguilar said. “They're out there — physically
— engaging the public, checking ID cards, and
psychologically deterring anyone who may be watching for a
way to get on base.”
The 100th SFS airmen check ID
cards, patrol the base, check buildings, respond to
emergencies and do anything else necessary to provide a safe
Security forces Airmen work in cycles of
six days of eight-hour shifts, followed by three days off,
Aguilar said. Airmen have to spend roughly an additional
hour before each shift preparing by checking out weapons,
equipping gear and receiving briefings.
spend about an hour each day after their shift checking
their equipment back in, conducting training and catching up
on emails, Clarke said. Airmen also exercise with their
flight three times per cycle.
Because of their
different work cycle, Clarke said it's difficult for Airmen
to maintain friendships with anyone who, not only isn't a
cop, but isn't on the same rotation as they are.
“Having different hours definitely limits how much you can
hang out with people from different career fields,” Clarke
said. “Even within my flight, since there are three
different elements, it's hard to plan things at the flight
level because we're all off on different days.”
their job is very demanding, it's rewarding and essential to
all missions on base, Clarke said.
“I like the
excitement and action of responding to a scene. I'm not
happy if there's a situation, but it gets your blood
pumping,” Clarke said. “Being able to help people feels
The flight chief adds to Clarke's sentiment,
emphasizing the importance of the 100th SFS airmen and their
vital role in enabling every mission on base.
couldn't do my job as a flight chief without exemplary,
motivated Airmen,” Aguilar said. “They're the ones out in
the vehicles, standing at the gates, securing the base and
executing the mission.”
By U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Preston Webb
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