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97 Security Forces Squadron Increases Defensive Capability

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Andrew Rivera, response force member assigned to the 97th Security Forces Squadron, stands outside of the main gate, Sept. 27, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. First response situations require appropriate responses, so quality hands-on training is mandatory for being prepared in these situations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody Dowell)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Andrew Rivera, response force member assigned to the 97th Security Forces Squadron, stands outside of the main gate, Sept. 27, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. First response situations require appropriate responses, so quality hands-on training is mandatory for being prepared in these situations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody Dowell)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

Whether it’s domestic abuse, an active shooter, gate-runner or building alarm, the 97th Security Forces Squadron will secure the base to ensure the safety of its members.

If these events were to happen, security forces members secure the gates for the protection and well-being for the members of the 97th Air Mobility Wing. These events are high-stress situations, so quality hands-on training is mandatory in order to be ready to respond effectively.

The next trainings like this will occur Oct. 13 and Oct. 14, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. each day.

“When it comes to saving lives, we have to practice like we play,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Justin Carpenter, NCO in charge of operations assigned to the 97th SFS. “When it comes to performing in a real-world situation, we must understand all the correct responses and enact the training that we receive.”

These days, law enforcement must be prepared for anything. That is why a significant amount of time is being put into quality training.

“We managed to implement a new work schedule for our defenders to increase training time,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Nathaniel Lesher, commander of the 97th SFS. “We increased on-duty total training time from six hours to 48 hours a month because we can never be too prepared. This hasn’t taken away from our manning around the base and will only increase security.”

Since Altus is a smaller base, gate closures are more impactful.

“We are aware that the base as a whole has a mission, but we have one as well,” said Lesher. “We try to keep our training that requires closing a gate to low-traffic hours that don’t affect the mission. This training is mainly for new defenders who haven’t received much hands-on training themselves.”

To prepare for whatever comes the base’s way, the 97th SFS plans on standing up an emergency service team in the future. This team would receive Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) training, so the base would be ready for a full spectrum of events and seamlessly integrate with higher-level agencies in case of larger attacks.

“There are always reasons to evolve and train,” said Carpenter. “Directives, Air Force Instructions, new Airmen and tactics are always changing, so we have to be ready. Each time we train, we improve our force by identifying our faults and improving upon them. Training is everything for first responders.”

For all squadrons, completing their mission is a top priority. In the end, the squadrons come together to fulfill the base’s mission.

“The mission for the 97th SFS is to defend the base and we take that seriously,” said Lesher. “If we didn’t need to do this, we wouldn’t be doing it. We ask everyone to be patient while our defenders prepare for everything that they will face.”