FAST provides security for flights throughout Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman David Carbajal
  • 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
 In desolate areas of Afghanistan, where few roads can be found, C-130 Hercules and C-27 Spartans land on dirt runways to transport personnel and cargo to remote forward operating bases.

Fly Away Security Team members provide security for those flights where they seldom have the luxury of a secured flight line.

"FAST really isn't much different than security forces at a stateside location," said Staff Sgt. Adamo Merlo, a 451st Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron FAST member. "The only difference is we go where the plane goes."

The fly away teams consist of two security forces members who are equipped with an M-4 and an M-9. They support an average of 4 to 5 flights per day to FOBs such as Qalat, Tirin Kot and several others throughout the country.

"We're treated just like aircrew," Merlo said. "We blend in with the flight crew. We wear flight suits without nametags. The only difference is we wear (individual body armor) and carry two weapons instead of one."

Prior to flight, the FAST members attend an intelligence briefing to understand the potential threats during the mission, Merlo said.

"It's not uncommon for local nationals to be on the airfield when we arrive to a location," said Master Sgt. Brian Algeo, the FAST NCO in charge. "So, while the crew is busy checking instruments and unloading cargo, we have to be vigilant to keep everyone safe. In some cases, we can be the last line of defense for the aircrew and the aircraft."

The security team is also responsible for the flight's security while in the air.

"As a FAST member, we're not only responsible for maintaining the security of the aircraft while it's on the ground, but also maintaining order on the aircraft during flight," Merlo said.

Occasionally, the security teams supports flights that are transporting high-profile passengers throughout the area of responsibility.

"If a passenger gets out of hand, we have to detain them to ensure the security of the aircraft," said Merlo.

Most security team members attend a three-day course to gain new skills like hand-to-hand combat and anti-hijacking training at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

"We always have to be vigilant and be on guard because you never know what's going to happen," Merlo said.