Holloman defenders protect and serve

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Siuta B. Ika
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
George Orwell, a British novelist and journalist, once wrote, "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

At Holloman, the Airmen of the 49th Security Forces Squadron stand ready to defend the men, women, children and assets that call the base home or work.

"Our mission is to provide security law enforcement actions for the installation," said Senior Master Sgt. Shannon Gallien, 49th SFS Operations superintendent.

To accomplish this, more than 285 members that make up the squadron are broken down into different sections: Command, Intelligence, Operations, Logistics and Plans, and Programs.

"Operations is our largest branch -- about 250 members -- and they are the bulk of the Airmen that you would see patrolling the base and protecting the flightline," said Sergeant Gallien. "They are also the ones that provide our outer layer of protection by manning the front gates."

"Our entry controllers, working in conjunction with the personnel manning the Welcome Center, identified 157 people with outstanding warrants and prevented them from coming on the base in 2010," he added.

To add to the Operations branch's efforts, the Intelligence branch put a program into place that helped reduce crime around the base and kept criminals from reaching Holloman's front gate.

"Our Intelligence branch was able to implement a county-wide Criminal Threat Fusion Cell that tracked criminal threats to the base and focused patrols on 'at risk' areas, resulting in a 10 percent reduction in crime," said Lt. Col. Chris DeGuelle, 49th SFS commander.

Although the Intelligence and Operations branches have significant roles which are key to defending the base, all of the branches work together to ensure mission success, explained Master Sgt. Antoine Washington, 49th SFS Operations NCO in charge.

"When people drive through the front gate, they may only see the entry controllers or the patrolmen," he said. "But there is a lot going on behind-the-scenes that people probably wouldn't know about. None of the branches would have the necessary equipment if our Logistics branch didn't outfit them. The Plans and Programs Branch handles all of our tickets, case reports and analysis, and our Command section makes sure our unit is squared away as far as in and out processing, enlisted performance reports and the physical training program."

To remain proficient in their responsibilities, the squadron must complete rigorous training programs designed for the security forces Airmen.

"We have mandatory, security forces specific training that's driven down from Air Combat Command that we must accomplish," said Sergeant Gallien. "We have localized training as well that we feel is necessary to accomplish the local mission."

The localized training, which has been valuable to the squadron, has been the training with the different local law enforcement agencies, said Sergeant Washington.

"We train with the Special Weapons and Tactics team from Albuquerque and have done various joint exercises with the FBI teams from El Paso [Texas] and Las Cruces," he said.

The reason why the training is important, he said, is because of the specialized help the squadron can receive in a specific area.

"One of the unique things we do here is crisis negotiations. In other words, hostage negotiations," Sergeant Washington said. "We have six FBI trained and certified hostage negotiators. That's important because if there was ever a barricaded-suspect incident on base, a negotiator would assume control until we could get support from Las Cruces, Albuquerque or El Paso law enforcement agencies and even then, those agencies would just provide assistance - our guys would still be in charge of the situation."

The squadron is also responsible for maintaining the Combat Arms Training and Marksmanship firing range, the Armory and Holloman's Military Working Dog kennel, which houses 10 dogs.

Even with all of the responsibilities here at Holloman, a large portion of the squadron is often tasked to support various missions around the world.

"In the past 18 months, over 85 percent of our defenders have been deployed for over 180 days on average," said Colonel DeGuelle. "Thirty of our defenders saw action defending two bases in Afghanistan against the first ground attacks on U.S. air bases since Vietnam."

In addition to defending the bases, the Airmen also took part in missions outside of the installations' walls.

"We also had Airmen that participated in outside-the-wire missions, which are some of the most dangerous duties for our career field or any career field in the Air Force," said Sergeant Gallien. "We proved our combat-capability ten-fold."

Engaging enemies of the U.S. earned several of the defenders nominations for the Combat Action Medal, with three already receiving the award within the past year.

In addition to the personal accolades security forces Airmen received, the squadron was awarded Best Large Unit of the Year at the 49th Wing's 2010 Annual Awards ceremony.

"This award is simply a reflection of the great things our Holloman defenders have done for our nation, base and community over the past year," said Colonel DeGuelle. "We provide integrated base defense, anti-terrorism, security operations and air provost services to a 12,000-person community encompassing 59,000 acres of land. I'm proud to be associated with this group of defenders. When we talk "All In" these folks are the model. Every day -- rain, snow, cold and heat -- they're on-duty."