Force protection Airmen ensure operational security
By Staff Sgt. Christopher Stoltz, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs Office
/ Published November 18, 2018
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- The most valuable asset in the United States Air Force is the Airman. To help protect these vital assets in the deployed area of responsibility, force protection Airmen augment base security forces. They serve as sensors, individuals who assist in safeguarding the operational security of the base and the personnel within.
“Force Protection personnel act as security escorts who monitor the actions and maintain positive control over individuals known as other country nationals,” said Tech. Sgt. Scott Cao, 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron force protection section chief. “These individuals require escort within areas controlled by the Air Force. These include both construction contracts, services contracts and other base supported activities.”
Force protection Airmen require a certain level of functional expertise, including; intelligence collection, awareness and reporting by all Airmen, detection of and protection from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, physical security enhancements, armed defense, and law enforcement assistance, to name a few.
According to Cao, who is deployed here from the 56th Operations Support Squadron at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, he helps manage more than 100 Airmen encompassing more than 50 different Air Force specialty codes from the active duty, guard, and reserve components. While managing a group as diverse as this may seem challenging to some, this diversity actually serves as a major strength.
“I have a very unique challenge of integrating 54 separate AFSCs into one cohesive team,” he said. “However, it is honestly the best part of the job.”
Staff Sgt. Akina Jones, 386th ECES FP supervisor, agreed with Cao and said and this has been an experience she will carry with her for the rest of her life.
“Working with Airmen from different AFSCs is a unique experience,” she said. “We all have so much knowledge and have been able to help each other out considerably. Honestly, this deployment has given me the opportunity to get to know people I may have never come across in my own career field.”
One example Jones described included a finance Airman, who assisted members of the unit with travel and funding questions when they first arrived. She said this was just one example of how each career field has contributed to their mission.
Cao said while there have been some speed bumps, as there will be with 100 people, there has not been an issue his team could not overcome. He said he believes his Airmen are some of the best the Air Force has to offer.
“I do feel a sense of pride knowing that these Airmen influence nearly every part of the base,” said Cao. “Our duties cover nearly all facets of the base, from something as simple as augmenting our security forces Airmen to overseeing repair work on our runway. I volunteered for this job because I knew I could make a difference and in the end – that’s all anyone wants.”