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The Year of the Defender improved career field capabilities

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) --

As we move forward into the new year, I’d like to reflect upon the past, “Year of the Defender” and how this critical initiative equipped our defenders to be more lethal and more ready. The increased investment in training, resourcing and equipment provided the career field with a spark that will continue to deliver capabilities to our defenders for years to come.

The Year of the Defender memorandum, signed by Air Force senior leaders, was designed to restore readiness, revitalize security forces organizations at all levels, and build a more dynamic force in accordance with the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Air Force direction. Numerous enterprise wide efforts were established to equip our defenders to better identify threats, better protect and defend our air bases to support Air Force, joint and coalition missions.

Our initial efforts focused on proficiency and professionalism by overhauling the curriculum at the Security Forces Academy. A top-to-bottom review of the academy was critical in providing the operational units a higher caliber defender upon graduation. With the support of our strong Security Forces Academy leadership team and our elite Security Forces Instructor cadre, we quickly updated our curriculum and implemented the changes in record time. This effort was critical in improving the foundation of our defender’s development.

Much needed focus was placed on human capital investment to protect our most important asset - the defender. Sustained efforts were placed to institute leader-led training. Leader-led training put our supervisors back into the loop of owning the responsibility of training the Airmen they lead. This effort has built a stronger connection and responsibility of ownership in the supervisor with their Airmen. Additionally, we placed focus on tier training, which provides training gates that all defenders must go through to ensure they are proficient for the skill level of their current rank. The tier level training has provided operational units the ability to determine the overall readiness of their Airmen based on whether they are enlisted or officer.

Human capital investment extended to our civilian defenders, who have been critical to maintaining our current readiness level. Our civilian defenders are now graduating from a 10-week course at Veterans Affairs Law Enforcement Training Center that is compliant with Department of Defense Law Enforcement Peace Officers Standards and Training requirements. This investment ensures our civilian defenders are ready to meet all mission requirements. This is especially important as we look to increase their role in Integrated Base Defense.

Additionally, we were successful in accelerating the delivery of modernized equipment to the field. The delivery of the new weapons systems, which includes the M18 handgun and the M4A1 rifle is underway. The need for better weapons was long overdue and critical in providing our defenders with the firepower necessary to defend our installations.

We strategically began investment in new modular scalable vests and helmets designed for better protection and fit while performing daily duties. We are also in the final stages of the designing and fielding the first-ever female body armor to ensure all defenders have the proper fitting gear to meet mission requirements.

In order to properly support the operational units, the Headquarters Air Force staff conducted a full evaluation of all career field policy and doctrine to ensure tactical and strategic alignment. Where warranted, there was a complete rewrite. These efforts are ongoing but we have started to refine gaps in policy and improved guidance to the operational units executing the mission. Better guidance drives improved execution!

Continuing into 2020, our newly developed Security Forces Enterprise Plan will support the current efforts underway from “Year of the Defender.” Our Security Forces Enterprise Plan will focus on four strategic goals, “Institutionalizing an Elite Defender Culture, Proficiency Focused Training, Modernizing Enterprise Capabilities, and Standardizing Requirements.” More to follow as we work to finalize the focus areas under each of these strategic goals.

As the largest enlisted career field in the Air Force with approximately 38,000 total force defenders serving on over 120 bases, it is the job of Security Forces to protect, defend and fight! We are responsible for integrated defense, nuclear security, and defending air bases around the globe. It is imperative we continue to train, develop, resource and equip the total force to include our civilian defenders for the environment in which we operate now and for the future.

These items discussed are only a small portion of the success of the “Year of The Defender.” Our efforts will remain centered on how we continue to make the defender weapon system…More Lethal and More Ready every day!

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