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Mounted security forces patrol Little Rock

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. (AFPN) -- Base security got a boost recently with the addition of three horses to form the 314th Security Forces Squadron mounted patrol.

The horse patrol covers a designated area of Little Rock Air Force Base every day and focuses on remote areas of the perimeter, wooded areas behind housing and hunting areas that normally do not receive routine law enforcement coverage. Riders cover virtually every area of the base, said Lt. Col. Kyle Lundberg, 314th SFS commander.

"Horses can go where vehicles can't, where even all-terrain vehicles get stuck and cover ground possibly not traversable by foot," said Staff Sgt. Cherri Allen, 314th SFS mounted patrol trainer. "Things that are normally obstacles to people and vehicles are not obstacles to these horses."

It took about 90 days from concept approval to receiving three certified horses and riders here.

The horses are named Leadership, Teamwork and Growth.

Finding three horses suitable for the work was just the start of an intensive project, said Allen. Leadership made the journey from Colorado, while Growth and Teamwork were found in Fayetteville and El Paso, Ark.

"We were very selective in finding horses with the right temperament, size, and standardized color and appearance," said Lundberg.

After that, saddles, tack and other riding and safety equipment had to be ordered. The mounted patrol will soon be wearing a new riding uniform with helmet, riding boots, navy-blue breeches and a light-blue top, similar to a blue service uniform.

The mounted patrol is the first in Air Education and Training Command and second in the Air Force.

"The security forces horse patrol was originally used at Clark Air Base in the Philippines and later at Howard Air Base in Panama. Those horses are currently in use at Vandenberg Air Force Base, (Calif.,)" said Lundberg. "I had seen those horses in action while (on temporary duty) and saw firsthand the benefit of using them in remote areas of an air base."

A mounted unit from the Dallas Police Department volunteered to train the seven mounted patrol members here during two weeks in November. The mounted patrol learned basic care and maintenance of the horse and equipment, riding skills and proper police procedures from a mounted position, including handcuff and search tactics. The riders and horses also received advanced sensory training desensitizing the horse to loud noise and other events that could startle the horses.

"The sensory training was the most complex because the horse had to learn to ignore gunfire, sirens and other stimuli and to focus on the rider while the rider had to learn to control the horse no matter what was going on," said Allen. "Your main goal is to stay in the saddle at all times so you really have to learn how to control the entire situation -- yourself, the horse and the suspect -- from the saddle."

Similar to military working dog teams, the horse and rider must be properly trained and certified by the 314th Mission Support Group commander prior to working patrol.

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