Kudos to Eagle Eyes

Senior Airman Trenton Hawk, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron, pretends to takes photos of vehicles as they pass by Gate 2 at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 12, 2015. Trenton was behaving suspiciously as part of an Eagle Eyes exercise the 48th Fighter Wing Inspection Team held to test the vigilance of the base populace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erin R. Babis/Released)

Senior Airman Trenton Hawk, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron, pretends to takes photos of vehicles as they pass by Gate 2 at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 12, 2015. Trenton was behaving suspiciously as part of an Eagle Eyes exercise the 48th Fighter Wing Inspection Team held to test the vigilance of the base populace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erin R. Babis/Released)

Senior Airman Trenton Hawk, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron, watches as a concerned Liberty Wing family member takes a photo of his suspicious behavior at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 12, 2015. This photo was submitted to the 48th Security Forces Squadron to alert them of the suspicious activity taking place outside Gate2 during a base Eagle Eyes exercise. (Courtesy photo/Released)

Senior Airman Trenton Hawk, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron, watches as a concerned Liberty Wing family member takes a photo of his suspicious behavior at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 12, 2015. This photo was submitted to the 48th Security Forces Squadron to alert them of the suspicious activity taking place outside Gate2 during a base Eagle Eyes exercise. (Courtesy photo/Released)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- The moment we pulled around the corner to get on base, security forces had their M4 carbines at the ready and were yelling for us to put our hands in the air.

I was one of three Airmen participating in an Eagle Eyes exercise the 48th Fighter Wing Inspection Team put together to test the vigilance of everyone at RAF Lakenheath. The only instructions I had been given for the day were to wear dark clothes. Little did I know I would be testing the security of the largest U.S. Air Force installation in England.

By the end of the day I'd witnessed how the entire base populace is a sensor to deter threats from off-base, or, as the program's name suggests, how we are the "Eagle Eyes."

Donning our sunglasses and the hoods of our jackets to hide our faces from anyone that might see us, we behaved suspiciously to see what reactions we'd receive.

I was positioned at Gate 2 with Senior Airman Trenton Hawk, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron, taking pictures and writing notes as though we were trying to figure out a way to get on base undetected. In essence, we were acting creepy.

The response was immediate.
 
"When the scenarios were initiated, only minutes went by before oncoming military and civilian personnel alerted security forces gate guards about suspicious individuals outside the gate," said Master Sgt. Marquis Daniels, 48th Fighter Wing inspection and exercise planning section chief. "One 48th FW family went as far as taking pictures of the suspicious activity and sent them to the [48th] Security Forces Squadron desk sergeant."

The photos helped create accurate descriptions for be-on-the-lookout, or BOLO, warnings that were immediately printed and disseminated to all entry gates and security patrolmen.

"The descriptions of the vehicles and personnel proved invaluable," Daniels explained.

As a result of the very strong response from the 48th SFS, the inspection team advised us to lay low for at least 30 minutes before attempting to gain access through the main base entry point.

I'm usually a strict rule follower; so it was a bit of an adrenaline rush to feel like an outlaw. It was crazy to realize, until this exercise was over, that there was no way I could get on base without being detained by police.

When the time came to make our move, we saw the BOLOs had done their job. They recognized us before I even had a chance to put my coffee down.

It was terrifying to be on the receiving end of security forces' wrath. To my relief, a member of the WIT came to our rescue and let security know it was an exercise, and that the Liberty Wing and its 48th SFS had passed with flying colors.

"Operations Security could not be done without the vigilance of 48th FW personnel acting as sensors and reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement," Daniels said. "The 48th FW's safety is not only a [48th] SFS responsibility; it's everyone's duty to be on the lookout for suspicious activity."