Section keeps security forces equipped, rolling

  • Published
  • By Maj. Ann P. Knabe
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
They're not your typical cops packing heat and patrolling the flightline. Without them, the 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron mission would screech to a halt.

The 379th ESFS training and resources section, better known as S-4, provides critical support to the security forces Airmen serving on the first lines of defense.

"Team unity is our theme," said Capt. Michael Gallucci, 379th ESFS officer in charge of training and resources. "The S-4 section works together to support the security forces mission, handling everything from weapons and vehicles to communications and logistical support. Without our efforts, it would be next to impossible to accomplish the mission."

Staff Sgt. Jacob Ceglinski and Rey Garza work the supply angle. Together, they manage more than $1.5 million worth of equipment and supplies each year. A retired Air Force master sergeant, Mr. Garza is finishing his second year working at the base in Southwest Asia.

"We outfit a couple of hundred cops with tactical armor," said the accounting and issuing specialist, showing the metal plates inside security forces flak vests. "We also issue helmets, holsters and other tactical gear."

Several doors down, Staff Sgt. Nikki Howard and Gary Burgess run an 80-vehicle fleet for the desert unit. They are responsible for more than 100 SUVs, Humvees, ATVs and other tactical vehicles, all critical to the security forces mission.

In the last month, Sergeant Howard and Mr. Burgess exchanged 73 vehicles, responded to more than 40 vehicle service calls and changed 11 tires.

"The desert environment -- all the rocks and blowing sand -- takes it toll on our vehicles," Sergeant Howard said, who is deployed to Southwest Asia from the 96th Security Forces Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. "So, we see a lot more wear and tear and repairs here compared to a home station unit."

Technical Sgt. Brian Christen, a security forces specialist from McConnell AFB, Kan., said the desert sand also plays havoc with personal computers. The Airman, who is finishing his computer information systems degree, manages more than 200 computers and other high-tech equipment assigned to the unit.

"A lot of it is preventative maintenance," he said. "Computer life spans are limited from the dust, sand and heat."

Sergeant Christen said a lot of his time is spent "defragging" computers from all the profiles that build up when multiple Airmen use one system.

Across base, Tech. Sgt. Jonnie Grove and Mike Bennett run the security forces armory with six other Airmen. Mr. Bennett, the armament manager, spent 20 years in the Air Force before becoming a government contractor. His office is responsible for keeping track of all the weapons and ammunition carried by the cops around base.

"At any given time, we have more than 25,000 rounds of bullets to track," said Sergeant Grove, who works as a combat arms instructor back home at Cannon AFB, N.M. "Every round is accountable."

"New arrivals always zero-fire their assigned weapons," said Senior Airman Roberto Gonzalez, explaining how security forces Airmen calibrate their weapons to their eyesight.

Airman Gonzalez said the ammo shop recently started a new initiative to help keep the spring tension working properly in 9 mm cartridges.

"We're having our troops block ammo," said the Airman deployed from Andrews AFB, Md. "They remove the rounds out of the magazines, account for 210 bullets, relieve the spring tension, and reload them. This stretches the life of the spring because it isn't stuck in the same position."

The armory Airmen also store and repair high-tech security forces equipment, like night-vision goggles and thermal-imaging devices that use infrared technology so security forces can see in the dark.

Master Sgt. Bobby Fears, the section superintendent, said the S-4 staff also provides critical training support to keep Airmen growing professionally.

"We want to make sure all of our Airmen are fully qualified and ready to perform their duties flawlessly at a moment's notice," Sergeant Fears said. "This means keeping their training up to date. Our unit boasts a 100 percent pass rate on CDCs (career development courses) with an 88 percent average on tests. It's pretty amazing when you realize our Airmen are working 12-hour shifts every day."

The S-4 training section is managed by Staff Sgt. John Sweeney and Kyle Torres. The two are responsible for ensuring all of the 379th ESFS Airmen are trained and certified to work upon arrival.

"Our location here in the desert places unique training demands on Airmen," Sergeant Sweeney said. "We need to make sure new arrivals understand the cultural nuances, threat levels and other factors that impact the security forces mission in this austere environment. To do this, we provide realistic scenarios for training."

Sergeant Fears said the success of the S-4 in a deployed location like Southwest Asia is a compilation of motivated efforts from many focused and loyal Airmen, all who are critical in supporting the security force's role in the war on terrorism.