97th SFS Airman ensures secure flights in austere areas downrange

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Mary Davis
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Public Affairs
"Rough landing in 15 minutes," the C-130J crew chief yelled as he passed the two security forces members sitting in jump seats of the Hercules aircraft.

The security forces "Defenders" silently checked their weapons, adjusted their body armor and sat calmly. They braced themselves for the hard landing and bumpy ride to an abrupt stop - signaling the flight's end and the beginning of their work.

Once the tail of the aircraft opened, the pair quickly scrambled outside and was welcomed by the 100-degree heat and sand from the running propellers. The team split up, slowly scanning the perimeter for potential threats as they silently made their way to the wingtips. The vigilant war fighters watched and waited for passengers and cargo to be offloaded before boarding the aircraft for a speedy departure from the dirt runway.

It was another safe operation, another successful mission completed and just another day for the Fly Away Security Team members assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, who keep Bagram Airmen "responsive and precise."

The FAS Team is tasked with providing security for aircraft, aircrews, passengers and cargo, said Master Sgt. Brian Sedgley, 455 ESFS FAST coordinator.

"Basically, there are three types of flights that FAS Team would fly on," said the master sergeant from Scituate, R.I. "The first is detainee movement, foreign national personnel movement and austere areas requiring additional security requirements."

Security forces members receive two-week instruction consisting of mounted and dismounted patrols, entry control point, tower security and quick response force training, he said. In addition, they also attend a four-day FAST class that includes flight deck denial operations and ground security, involving safe transfer of distinguished visitors or persons under control.

To initiate a FAS Team mission, Sedgley said he receives a call one day prior from Air Mobility Division Force Protection. He creates a duty roster and informs his personnel. The day of the mission, the team members report in and make sure their equipment and weapons are ready and leave for the assigned mission.

Responsible for the people on board, there are times when one FAST member will sit in the flight deck area to provide security when there are persons under control or distinguished visitors aboard. This ensures no unauthorized individuals enter the flight deck.

Not only are they responsible for people on board, but the safety of the entire aircraft, said Tech. Sgt. Jason Guillory, 455 ESFS FAST leader.

"Normally, we exit the rear of the aircraft after it lands. Time on the ground varies, but the longer it's on the ground, the more of a potential target we become," said Guillory, who is deployed from the 19th Security Forces Squadron, Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. "As long as the aircraft is on the ground with the ramp lowered, we are outside performing sentry security. On the ground, the aircraft engines are left running, so crews work as quickly as they can to offload people and cargo so we can take off again."

For Airman 1st Class Dominque Maniece, being a FAS Team member is an exciting part of his first deployment, he said.

"It's different than doing your normal security forces job," said Maniece, who is deployed from Altus AFB, Okla. "I enjoy being able to go several places throughout Afghanistan, knowing the aircrew depends on us for security."

Guillory agreed.

"I think it broadens our career field - to go outside the wire for a while and provide security," he said. "It's something distinctive that we do, and we take our job very seriously."

Flying to areas with minimal security can sometimes be intimidating for aircrews. That's why Maj. Matt Glynn, C-130J pilot, was grateful for the support the FAST members provide.

"When you land in austere areas, sometimes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck," said Glynn, an Air National Guardsman with the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. "It's a good feeling knowing the FAS Team is onboard looking out for us."