A year in the life of a wing anti-terrorism officer

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Gearold Crouse
  • 509th Bomb Wing anti-terrorism officer
As my one-year tour in the 509th Bomb Wing Antiterrorism Office draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on my experiences as the alternate wing AT officer. 

Nearly a year ago, I was going about my duties in the 509th Civil Engineer Squadron consolidated aircraft support system shop, when my superintendent asked if I would like to volunteer to work in the 509th BW/AT office. 

At that time, I had no idea Whiteman even had an AT office, let alone what my duties would entail. I quickly took stock of my Air Force career and as a technical sergeant. I knew I needed to do more to broaden my experience in order to become a "well-rounded NCO." 

After thinking it over for about 10 seconds, I told him, "Sure, sounds like it may be fun." 

In the back of my mind, my thoughts were purely selfish as I was mulling over all the cool stuff I was going to get to do at the wing AT office. 

I had visions of being outside the base fence-line, working with the office of Special Investigations and the 509th Security Forces Squadron to dig up leads on nefarious individuals who may be out there plotting against the base. 

I saw myself dissecting intelligence reports to determine what terrorist groups might be plotting against us. 

Maybe I'm just cynical, but I don't think Fox News and CNN are giving us the whole picture. 

Well, my name was submitted and a short time later I received word I was selected for the job. 

I reported to the AT office and quickly learned my concept of what an antiterrorism officer did was askew to say the least. 

First, I met the wing ATO, Mike Wilson, who lives and breathes AT. 

He quickly let me know that as his alternate I would be required to attend the AT Level II Program Manager's Course at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., to learn the basics of my job. 

He also told me the main responsibility of an AT officer was to act as the primary adviser to senior wing leadership on all terrorism-related issues. 

I learned I would in fact work closely with OSI, SFS, Intelligence, FBI, Deptarment of Homeland Security, local law enforcement and various other agencies to develop an accurate and timely threat picture for Whiteman and the surrounding area. 

To my chagrin, I discovered I would not be working out in the field, but from an office located within the headquartersbuilding. 

I discovered random antiterrorism measures have nothing to do with livestock, but a DOD directed program, which enables us to present an unpredictable, robust, security posture in order to deter terrorist surveillance and planning. 

I learned that after 9/11, AT permeates everything we do, from increased ID checks and searches at base gates, to all new construction projects and renovations, to requiring all DOD affiliated personnel to take AT Level I awareness training as an annual requirement. 

I discovered the threat working group, pronounced "twig," has nothing to do with small branches on a tree, but involves keeping the commander informed on the international and local threat. 

I was shocked to find outthat force protection conditions involve much more than hanging signs on doors and checking IDs. 

I learned "every airman is a sensor" and as we mention in our AT briefings, "there is a fine line between awareness and paranoia, but there is a chasm between awareness and complacency." 

I learned "YOU" are the most important asset in fighting and winning the Global War on Terrorism and "YOUR" situational awareness in detecting and reporting security anomalies will be the deciding factor to thwarting terrorist attacks. 

If you detect suspicious activities the worst thing you can do is assume someone else has already reported the incident, or worse yet, do nothing at all. 

My duties made it startling clear the AT office is charged with developing a "culture of security" to ensure the safety and well being of all Whiteman personnel. 

In my opinion we can best accomplish this by developing grass-roots awareness and training programs to educate all personnel on their individual role in fighting and winning the GWOT. 

I also learned the AT office conducts or participates in a half dozen separate vulnerability assessments each year to identify and correct security deficiencies. 

I discovered there are millions of dollars worth of AT construction, security and communications initiatives in work and the planning stages. 

You may have noticed that nowhere in the last couple of paragraphs have I mentioned anything about crawling through the weeds going after the bad guys - man was my perception off! 

Although the duties of the AT office are a shade off what I believed they would encompass, I have had the opportunity to work with people throughout the wing and local community, who truly epitomize what is means to be an Airman and an American citizen. 

The 509th BW has some of the best, brightest, most dedicated people working here I have ever met; and without the opportunity to work in the AT office -- I would not realize this as completely as I do now. 

Every person on this installation; active duty, National Guard, Army Reserve, civilian, retirees or family members are an extremely important part of the fight to defend this nation against terrorist aggression. 

We are all "sensors" to suspicious activity and everyone can be a "giant voice" in reporting these activities. 

As we all know, Whiteman is the home to the Air Force's premiere weapons system, the B-2 bomber. 

But this multi-billion dollar aircraft could become vulnerable without the dedicated, patriotic citizens of Whiteman and the surrounding communities maintaining their vigilance and determination to defeat an enemy whose self-stated goal is the destruction of our society and way of life. 

I would like to thank Lt. Col. Pam Moxley, 509th CES commander, Mr. Wilson, Col. Eric Single, 509th BW vice commander, and Brig. Gen. Greg Biscone, 509th BW commander, for giving me the opportunity to be a "sensor" and see the GWOT big picture. 

I will cherish my time spent at Whiteman and will take all I have learned to my next base and spread the "culture of security."