U.S. security forces work alongside Ecuador airmen

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Orville F. Desjarlais Jr.
  • Air Force Print News
It is not Iraq or Afghanistan. That is just fine for Staff Sgt. Eric Adams, from Langley Air Force Base, Va., and the other security forces Airmen who rotate through here every six months during air and space expeditionary force deployments.

Instead of facing mortar attacks in Afghanistan or bullets in Iraq, security forces Airmen here can shake off the tension that surrounds being a target in a war zone.

Here one year as the chief of security forces, Capt. Chris Sheffield said his troops are happy to get this assignment.

“To me, they say it is an incredible relief to deploy here,” the captain said. “We work in a nice environment. We can interact with folks outside the base in a relaxed atmosphere -- unlike many bases in Iraq or Afghanistan -- and they can take their uniforms off and go downtown after work.”

Sergeant Adams, a security forces controller, joined the Air Force to “see the world.” And, see the world he has.

This is his seventh deployment in the five years he has been in the Air Force. He is five months into a six-month deployment here.

“We have a different mission,” Sergeant Adams said. “We are forced to integrate with the (federal air force of Ecuador) and aircrews. Because we’re a small unit, everyone contributes to the mission.”

Counterdrug operations here have seized $1.4 billion in drugs since the start of the operation.

A variety of equipment helps safeguard the multimillion-dollar aircraft that support counterdrug missions, such as the E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control systems, KC-135 Stratotanker, U.S. Coast Guard and customs planes.

Security forces Airmen use closed-circuit television and alarms circling the flightline to help do their jobs.

By working alongside Ecuadorian airmen, security forces supplements their ranks of less than 40.

Airmen are also training Ecuadorian servicemembers to help in the control room, which houses all the security equipment, cameras and radios. And, Ecuadorian airmen ride along with security forces when they patrol the perimeter. In addition, 12th Air Force provides training to both Manta security forces and the Ecuadorian airmen.

The Ecuadorian airmen receive the most current security training, learn to use modern equipment -- which is difficult to obtain because of limited funding -- and they get to study firsthand U.S. security forces tactics.

Because the base is located inside an Ecuadorian air force base, called Eloy Alfaro, Captain Sheffield said the base gets better protection.

“When we train them, we are really getting a better first line of defense,” he said.