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Air Force reservists defend base in Iraq

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jeff Walston
  • 506th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs
Members of the 506th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron here are putting to rest any misconceptions about how involved Airmen are engaged in the fight on the ground in Iraq.

Kirkuk Regional Air Base is currently the only installation in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility where Air Force security forces are responsible for all perimeter security, according to Lt. Col. Christopher Simpson, 506th ESFS commander.

The 506th ESFS, the largest squadron on Kirkuk, comprises almost half of the 506th Air Expeditionary Group. Airmen from 32 Regular Air Force and Air Force Reserve units make up the squadron, and nearly 35 of them are reservists from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga.

The Airmen perform a variety of jobs - K-9 handling, Raven-B unmanned aircraft systems and heavy-weapon duty - in addition to more traditional law enforcement and force protection roles. Security forces Airmen from Air Force Reserve Command make up about 80 percent of the squadron's force.

"[Reservists] are extremely proud to have the bulk of the defense of this base," said Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Cain, 506th ESFS chief enlisted manager, who is deployed from Dobbins ARB. "The active-duty units are basically force multipliers for us. It's unique for the theater. You won't find that any another place."

The mission for the 506th ESFS couldn't get any clearer, said Colonel Simpson, a traditional reservist deployed from Duke Field, Fla.

"From a security forces standpoint, it's simple - defend the base. Security is the number one mission for the group. Defending the base is the number one mission for our squadron," Simpson said.

Security forces Airmen undergo supplemental training before they deploy to meet the threats of the AOR. They attend Patriot Defender at Air Force Reserve Command's Regional Training Center for pre-deployment training at Carswell Air Reserve Base, Texas.

"The training is in-depth and prepares you, as much as possible, for the environment we operate in," he said.

Although the 506th ESFS Airmen conduct their operations inside the wire, information from outside the wire is also an important issue. The squadron does not conduct joint tactical operations with the Army but regularly shares information, said Colonel Simpson.

"What the Army shares from their outside-the-wire missions is critical when it comes to us developing and putting together a plan for our internal security mission," the colonel said. "The information they provide helps us identify our security priorities."

Reservists bring new perspective to the fight because of their unique backgrounds in their career fields, said Colonel Simpson.

"Many of our Airmen are seasoned law-enforcement professionals in their civilian jobs and are much more experienced when dealing with confrontation management situations," he said. "We have prior Army and Marine Corps members who joined the Air Force Reserve, and they bring a wealth of combat experience with them. But no matter what the specialties, they are all professional Airmen."

Every one of them is charged with the vital role in defending the base, the colonel added.

"When you give an Airman a loaded weapon, and you say, 'It's your job to make sure nobody attacks us or degrades our mission,' that's a huge responsibility, especially in this environment," said Colonel Simpson. (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)