WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
There is no standard expectation for the day when you’re on alert 24/7 as a security forces member.
Posted at each gate, entry control point, and mobilized around the installation in various roles, it takes a large group to safeguard the assets at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.
Over the past year, the 509th Security Forces Squadron exhibited unparalleled vigilance in accomplishing their mission. The Air Force recognized their many accomplishments by naming them the 2017 Air Force Global Strike Command Outstanding Security Forces Unit Award winners.
“No words can really describe how much of an honor it is to serve with these Defenders!” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Justin Secrest, the 509th Security Forces Squadron commander. “The award provides some hard-earned recognition for our personnel; however, we already know just how special these Defenders are. They overcome challenges every day to accomplish one of, if not the most important, missions our country has in direct support of our national security.”
Prior to the start of their shift, these Airmen don their dark blue beret bearing the Latin motto “Defensor Fortis.”
Every day, they do just that; they are the defenders of the force.
This past year alone, they countered a small, unmanned aerial system threat during an aircraft generation. From this situation, their tactics, techniques and procedures were adopted across the command and set the benchmark for security forces counter drone operations Air Force-wide.
“Drones are this generation’s emerging tactical threat, much as improvised explosive devices were 15 years ago. The 509th SFS has taken lead on implementing Air Force counter-drone initiatives and embedding them in daily security operations,” said Capt. Daniel Merkh, the 509th Security Forces Squadron operations officer.
“Security Forces is on the precipice of a new era of air base defense where defensive aerial security is an operational mission set ... the other half of the Air Force's publicized offensive power,” added Merkh. “It is an incredible privilege and responsibility to be leading in the effort while creating, and simultaneously implementing, local aerial defense policies that are becoming the precedent throughout the Major Command.”
In addition to the mission accomplishments, the 509th SFS also focused on base and community accomplishments, another component factored to earn the award.
“Our Airmen take their responsibilities as Air Force ambassadors just as serious as they do being this nation's Defenders,” said Master Sgt. Sherrill Sinclair, the 509th Security Forces Squadron first sergeant. “This year, our unit led nine major local community events involving 275 volunteers and over 3,000 hours of support. We had leaders involved in the planning and execution of large-scale base-level events such as the Air Force Ball, the Annual Awards and the Senior NCO Induction Ceremony.
“On top of that, we developed a post-Airman Leadership School development course where we expounded upon the school’s content and brought their newly found supervisory knowledge into the security forces realm,” added Sinclair. “Finally, our Defenders managed to pursue their educational goals amassing 255 courses completed, earning 765 credit hours resulting in 20 Community College of the Air Force, six bachelor’s and two master’s degrees.”
Their team also dominated the Nuclear Surety Inspection despite a manning deficit and they, in turn, were recognized with 36 superior performers, seven professional teams and a received an exemplary strong point in their Prime Nuclear Airlift Force operations.
“The camaraderie between each other enables them to keep our enemies in check, and it also empowers them to take care of one another through the long hours and difficult circumstances – a commander couldn’t ask for much more than that. If you want to be inspired, come talk to these Defenders,” remarked Secrest.
The 509th SFS will go on to compete against other MAJCOM winners at the Air Force level.