Combined security keeps Ganci safe

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Keeping people out of harm's way and protecting resources at Ganci Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, is the job of an elite group of professionals who tote radios, weapons and ride in vehicles equipped for rugged terrain.

Americans from the 376th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron and their security forces and military police counterparts from Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway here work as one on a daily basis -- on guard duty or in the newly formed combined defense operations center.

"The mission here is extremely different than at your average unit back home because you must capitalize on the security and law enforcement talents of multiple national entities and synergize the overall effort," said Maj. Craig Allton, 376th ESFS commander.

To do this, people must "bridge the cultural gap and listen to other perspectives in a foreign environment with an ever-present threat," he said.

About a month and a half ago, the base defense operations center was transformed into a fully combined operation. Now, coalition forces work together to ensure everyone on base is properly defended and equipment is always accounted for.

"The main thing is that the United States and (the European partners) are together in one office," said Dutch 1st Lt. Jorrit van de Ven, who works in the combined center. "The ability to inform everyone when they're right here is the main advantage."

Manned by forces from all three countries, the gates to the base are where coalition forces interact with local Kyrgyz people. With the help of local translators, gate workers significantly reduce the possibility of misunderstandings between themselves and visitors.

Working with coalition forces "broadens your understanding and respect for different cultures," said Senior Airman Rebecca Fleck, from the 376th ESFS.

While security forces come from different backgrounds and learn their duties under a different set of guidelines, they have overcome their differences for a common cause -- security.

"I cannot overemphasize how truly remarkable our coalition security force is," said Allton.