Security forces first line of defense for tent city
By 2nd Lt. Jen Andrews, 405th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 09, 2002
OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (AFPN) -- It is 112 degrees outside and you feel like your skin is burning off. Sweat runs down your back as you hurry into your tent to grab a nice cold bottle of water from the fridge. However, some deployed personnel do not have that luxury. They stand ever-vigilant, carrying an extra 15 pounds of gear, in the heat and wind, watching for signs of disturbance, constantly on guard, ensuring the safety and protection of other base personnel.
The 405th Security Forces Squadron at this deployed location is the base's first line of defense.
"A real threat is out there," said Staff Sgt. James Walters, from Moffett Field, Calif. "It's easy to forget where we are, but these security forces troops can't fall into that relaxed mindset. They're always vigilant."
The 405th SFS troops usually work 12- to 14-hour days, with a team made up of people from Elington Field, Texas; Scott Air Force Base, Ill.; Barksdale AFB, La.; McChord AFB, Wash.; Nellis AFB, Nev.; and Moffett.
"We're a very tight-knit group," said Senior Airman Amanda Zeltner, from McChord. "At home, we lean on our friends and family for support. Here we lean on each other."
Since they are at a forward operating base, security forces do not have a lot of the facilities and tools to work with that a more established base might have.
"A perimeter in the United States or Europe might use sensors, fences or any number of mechanical or technical tools," said Walters. "Here, we do it the old-fashioned way, we put a troops with M-16s out there and they do the job."
Physical patrolling is intense. Troops go out on foot or in all-terrain vehicles to patrol the perimeter, acting as both an early warning system and detection post. Their job is to sound the alarm to give others a chance to get ready for any hostile act, while putting themselves between enemy forces and the installation.
"It's a sobering thought when you're out in the desert, looking back at the lights behind you, knowing you are all that is between any hostile forces and the service members in tent city," said Walters.
The closeness of the group is evident. Staff Sgt. Levi Bridges, from Scott, carried a bucket of water with Epsom salt almost a block to another security forces troop who had blisters on his feet.
"I got water for him to soak his feet in," Bridges said. "I helped him so he would get ready for the next day's patrol."
Besides patrols, troops also work the vehicle search pit. They hand every vehicle that enters the base, including trash and sewage trucks.
"It's not easy to be at a forward location," Walters said. "But I haven't heard one person complain. This group came together with one mindset and are accomplishing the mission."