Patrol team has unique desert mission

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kenneth McCann
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Members of the 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron base security zone patrol team have a more unique mission than the average security forces Airman while on deployment at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.

The mission of the patrol team is to secure the base perimeter and build positive relationships with the locals who live in camps surrounding the base. The perimeter consists of two zones: the outer base security zone, which includes camps of host nation citizens, and the inner military exclusion zone, which is off limits to everyone except authorized military personnel.

“A typical day for the patrol team involves listening for and observing any suspicious activity within these zones,” said Senior Airman Rhea Flambeau, a 386th ESFS patrolman. 

Encounters during his patrols often include unauthorized individuals and hazardous materials. He also comes across creatures that are unique to the surrounding desert region.

“Sometimes we come across grazing camels,” Flambeau said. “Most of them are friendly but some get scared off when you drive or walk near them.” 

The patrol team is also responsible for building relationships with locals in the area. The relationships help the security forces mission of protecting the base from intruders and other hazards. The Airmen use the visits with locals to communicate about issues that may impact base operations in an effort to solve problems before they occur.

“Our Airmen visit local national and Bedouin camps within our base security zone,” said Capt. Timothy Marriner, the 386th ESFS operations officer. “Their job is to develop relationships with camp owners with knowledge of the local area and activities and identify leaders who may have influence with the local government and public agencies.” 

Building relationships with the local population has proven effective and has led to a sharp decrease in incidents that can harm the wing mission; incidents include military exclusion zone intrusions and any actions harming flightline operations. 

“We have seen a 46 percent reduction in mission impacting events over the last deployment rotation within the base security zone because of our operations,” Marriner stated. “These relationships help us protect the base against hazards and unauthorized personnel.” 

The patrol team also works at connecting base leadership with influential members of the local area through key leadership engagements which assist in preventing possible negative impacts on flight operations. 

“The sit downs with the locals help us get information about the local area and educate influential leaders about various hazards to our base including people pointing lasers at our aircraft,” said Tech. Sgt. Brett Reed, a 386th ESFS craftsman. 

The meetings sometimes include dinner and tea inside camp tents and have had a big impact on the lives of patrol team members. 

“The people here are very welcoming and friendly,” Reed said. “This mission has given me a different view than what the world might present about people of the Middle East.”