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First unit marshal arming area operational

Tech. Sgt. Damien Seelbach, cybersecurity noncommissioned officer in charge, hands 1st Lt. Rachael Burks, cyber operations flight commander, a 9mm bullet from the chamber of a Beretta M9 during the disarming process conducted in the 436th Communications Squadron’s arming area, Oct. 24, 2019, on Dover Air Force Base, Del. Both Seelbach and Burks are squadron Unit Marshals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

Tech. Sgt. Damien Seelbach, 436th Communications Squadron Cybersecurity noncommissioned officer in charge, hands 1st Lt. Rachael Burks, 436th CS Cyber Operations flight commander, a 9mm bullet from the chamber of a Beretta M9 during the disarming process conducted in the new 436th CS arming area, Oct. 24, 2019, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Both Seelbach and Burks are squadron unit marshals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)


The 436th Communications Squadron held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at their in-house armory as part of the Unit Marshal Program rollout for Dover Air Force Base, Oct. 24.

The 436th CS is the first squadron in the Air Force to create its own arming area in support of the UMP.

The UMP is designed as an active-shooter deterrent program since 436th CS UMs do not respond to threats outside of the 436th CS building.

Dr. Craig Gilbert, 436th CS chief of knowledge management and UMP manager, led the project.

“In the past, UMs armed once or twice a month,” Gilbert said. “With our own arming area, our goal is to have a UM armed every day, substantially increasing force protection. Basically, (UMs are) increasing the protection of more than $43 million in assets and 60 personnel from 16 hours per month to potentially 200 hours per month.”

Protection of personnel and assets within the 436th CS building was a priority for the UMs due to the building’s proximity to the base clinic and the base’s main gate, from which incidents are likely to originate.

“The most significant gain is the reduction in time it takes to respond to an active-shooter threat,” Gilbert said. “(Responding) security forces patrols could take as long as five minutes to arrive on scene. However, UMs on site can immediately respond to an active-shooter threat, thus saving lives.”

Currently, the 436th CS has two trained UMs and plans on getting two more individuals trained.

“Initial candidates are volunteers, must be at least a staff sergeant and have to be vetted by the first sergeant and commander,” Gilbert said. “The commander has to sign a suitability-to-bear-firearms letter, and security forces also conducts a background check for suitability.”

With 436th CS having its own arming area, UMs will save additional time added to their duty day by not having to go to the security-forces armory to arm and disarm.

“Having the weapons in my own building, down the hall from my office, expedites this process ... I can simply call the (security forces squadron) desk sergeant to let them know I am arming up,” said Tech. Sgt. Damien Seelbach, 436th CS cybersecurity noncommissioned officer in charge and UM. “There is approximately 35-40 minutes of time saved when arming up and again when de-arming in this new process.”

UMs are armed with a Beretta M9 and carry a standard load of ammunition.

“Within duty hours, to always have somebody on the premises armed, given our proximity to the main gate … if something were to happen, we’re always prepared. We don’t have to wait on response time for someone to come to our aid. We’re just ready to go,” said Maj. Peter Dell’Accio, 436th CS commander.

UMs typically did not arm if they had an appointment or unit function to attend as they would have to turn in their weapon and ammunition first and rearm upon their return.

“The (436th) CS decided to lead the way and have their own UM program by being able to arm themselves (by storing) their weapons here inside their own facility,” Maj. Schneider Rislin, 436th Security Forces Squadron commander. “As SF, we are ready to respond to a threat, but knowing we have trained personnel at that location to protect themselves and others is an awesome thing. We appreciate them for leading the way.”

The 436th SFS was looking for ways to increase force protection and developed the UMP as a force multiplier.

Commenting on the 436th CS UMP, Gilbert stated, “It was unit funded; $5,000 for the safe and $300 for (the) clearing barrel (with) accessories required by the Air Force Instruction for Combat Arms Training and Maintenance.”

The 436th CS UMP relies on other base agencies to make it a success. The controlled-arming area is inspected by the 436th SFS resource protection section annually, while CATM will inspect weapons for cleanliness and functionality. The 436th Maintenance Squadron Munitions section will inventory and inspect ammunition. Additionally, Gilbert will also have to complete and maintain a Management Internal Control Toolset communicator for small arms.


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