SET Airmen provide convoy security to the area of responsibility

Airmen from the 386th Expeditionary Security Forces security escort team pose after a mission Aug. 6, 2014 at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Bowcock)

Airmen from the 386th Expeditionary Security Forces security escort team pose after a mission Aug. 6, 2014 at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Bowcock)

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Being in a deployed environment where multiple threats are prevalent, the security escort team ensures the safety of our troops when traveling off base.

Much like a police escort back home, SET serves as armed security to protect our Airmen as they drive through the area of responsibility. This can be for convoys, bank runs, or searching for Airman off base that have lost contact.

SET is comprised of Airmen from the 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron that are trained defenders who receive additional training for their unique mission.

"I've been on a mission with this team and they are phenomenal. They are far superior in driving techniques than I've seen previously," said Capt. Kenneth Canty, 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron operations officer. "I think we have a good group of Airmen that are very talented and technically proficient at their job. I've been very impressed with this rotation and think they are taking SET to a new level."

The team works hand in hand with the host nation, who also send a team to work with our Airmen when traveling in convoys.

"I like working with the host nation security teams. They like us here and we have a good working relationship with them," said Staff Sgt. Cody Johnson, a 6 year veteran of security forces and SET dayshift lead. "We do our job, they do theirs, and together we make it work to get the job done."

Planning routes through heavy traffic here presents a challenge for the team. Some of the roads are very narrow and traffic laws are not strictly followed by the host nation drivers. Additionally, construction can pop up overnight, bringing the roads to one lane and becoming too narrow for a convoy. On the highways with heavy traffic, civilians sometimes get in the convoy and have to be forced out, said Johnson who deployed from the 97th SFS, Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

"The challenge of the traffic is also my favorite part. Every day is something new and the job is constantly changing. It can be sketchy at times, but it is a lot fun."

SET members attend a 30-hour tactical driving operations course in Las Vegas where they learn to push vehicles to the limit and test their skills as a driver.

"It was an intense course requiring a lot of communication and teaching the different roles of the passengers in a hostile situation," recalled Johnson.

Airmen learn how to drive aggressively around cones, evasive maneuvers at 50-60 mph, and techniques to drive from another seat in a vehicle if the driver is incapacitated. They also learned counter surveillance which allows them to gather information if someone is following them without raising suspicions, according to Johnson.

"I had a blast there; it was the best training course I've ever been to. The final test was the most fun where we could put all of our training together for one mission and see what we are capable of."

Additionally, SET members go through the security forces pre-deployment training in Germany where they train on troop movements, convoy operations, urban operations, clearing buildings, developing operation orders and execution, and tactical casualty care for three weeks.

"We have members deployed from three different bases here," said Johnson. "During our training we all had to come together, learn each other's strengths and weaknesses and adapt to get the mission done. The cohesion with this group of people has been far better than with any of my previous deployments."

"It's fun being here, traveling and seeing a new culture," said Airman 1st Class Brandon Csady, a 386th ESFS SET driver deployed from the 97th SFS, of Altus AFB, Oklahoma. "The experience is unlike anything else I've done."