SOUTHWEST ASIA --
The U.S. Airmen and Marines of the 407th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron are leading the way on their deployment with a truly collective approach to joint defense operations. Over the past decade, joint operations between U.S. sister services has become increasingly prevalent. So much so, that the joint environment has become the paradigm of comprehensive and effective battlespace ownership. What is unique about the base defense mission here is the integration of not only two U.S. sister services, but also a coalition partner, all under one, unified tactical control.
The composition of the 407th ESFS is anomalous not only by virtue of its current assembly but the evolution thereto. Initially an Air Force mission, defense operations have developed into a synoptic pursuit with contributions from many of the installation’s stakeholders. This confluence of contributors, from varied cultures and specialties, has broadened the utility of the unit and epitomizes the concept of total force integration. The U.S. Air Force component is responsible for overall base defense, and as a result the plurality of the unit is Air Force security forces. Marine civil engineers and infantrymen from 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines make up the second largest subset. Contractors attached to the unit do their part to ensure a wide range of force multipliers are operational in support of defense operations. Finally, Polish Air Force security forces provide a contingent to assist with patrolling. Interestingly, support from the above mentioned organizations was not the product of a mandate or request for forces but rather the conscientious commitment of said entities.
In early spring of 2016 the Polish Air Force deployed to the 407th Air Expeditionary Group for their first deployment since World War II. From the outset of their arrival, the Polish contingency here expressed an abiding interest in participating in the defense of their personnel and assets. To this end, Polish leadership appealed to the U.S. Air Force Security Forces leadership to consider integrating Polish Security Forces personnel into base defense functions. In the days and weeks that followed, leadership on both sides worked together to implement Polish involvement in base defense. Finally, on August 18, 2016, the Airmen and Marines of the 407th ESFS welcomed the integration of the first combined, Polish Air Force – U.S. Air Force patrol since World War II.
The first official combined patrol was conducted by U.S. Air Force Reserve Tech. Sgt. Clark Medina and Polish Air Force Senior Private Adam Lukaszczyk. It was only fitting that a defender of Polish descent, participated in the first patrol.
“It is an honor to be the first Airman since World War II to work alongside our Polish counterparts. This experience is the highlight of my 24 year military career,” said Medina.
His Polish counterpart, Senior Private Lukaszczyk explained, “Polish people are very proud and hardworking. It is very important to us that we participate in the protection of our jets and people.”
While the Marines of the 407th ESFS are active duty from the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, the Airmen of the 407th ESFS are reservists from across the Air Force Reserve Command. Naturally, building a defense force from geographically separated units presents its own challenges with regards to continuity. However, AFRC Headquarters’ efforts to standardize training requirements across its units have proven effective in establishing a strong baseline for deployment readiness. These baselines and the synergies advanced, ensure that units from across AFRC are able to converge in an expeditionary setting and perform the full operational range. The 407th ESFS’s performance in the joint and coalition environment has reaffirmed the efficacy of AFRC’s ability to produce mission ready warfighters that are every bit as qualified as their active duty counterparts.
Whether it is reserves or active duty, U.S. or Coalition, the defense forces of the 407th ESFS continue to break new ground in the execution of a common mission: to defend their base and people in an effort to ensure the continuation of sorties to the area of tactical operation. Through this concord of advancing shared initiatives, the active duty U.S. Air Force, AFRC, U.S. Marine Corps, and Polish defense forces here have laid the ground work for effective interoperability for years to come.