RAF MILDENHALL, England --
They have been known by many names: cops, police, security forces, guardians of the gate and defenders. Some may say the word “Defender” is the most appropriate.
According to Merriam-Webster, a defender is one who drives away danger or protects from attack and for the men and women of the 100th Security Forces Squadron at RAF Mildenhall, this definition seems well suited.
Contrary to what some may think, Security Forces is a diverse field with opportunities for Airmen to do much more than guard the gate.
“It’s an extremely diverse career field, we have several different duties that we fulfill from the administering of passes, ensuring all the facilities security requirements and being military working dog handlers, just to name a few,” said Master Sgt. Richard Goetschel, 100th SFS NCO-in-charge of anti-terrorism. “You’re not just confined to gate duty; it’s a starting point to build a baseline so other skills can be added.”
Many defenders would agree that being in security forces is not an easy job, but it can be rewarding.
“Security Forces is a tough job, which is a good thing, because it’s more satisfying when you accomplish the mission,” Goetschel said. “Defenders are an integral part of the Air Force, as such they are stationed at every Air Force installation.”
Being a member of the 100th SFS is not a typical 9 to 5 job, security forces Airmen work in different conditions under considerable pressure.
“The most challenging aspect of security forces is maintaining readiness,” Goetschel said. “There may be 11 hours and 58 minutes of lower intensity activity, then two minutes of pure adrenaline. It’s a challenge to constantly maintain readiness and be prepared to react at a moment’s notice.”
Some may not realize that the 100th SFS as a part of the 100th Air Refueling Wing is a strategically forward unit, and they are prepared for different problems.
“Each installation has its own challenges-in England we look at a little higher possibility of terrorist threats than some other locations,” Goetschel said. “It changes from place to place, but we figure out how to mitigate terrorist threats with the help of our partners in intelligence, Office of Special Investigations and U.K. counterparts to develop a more robust threat warning for the installation, in the event we need to increase our force protection levels.”
For the Airmen of the 100th SFS, training is a way of life.
“Training never really stops for Security Forces, when new Airmen first arrive they have two phases of initial training to complete, but they will continue to train throughout their time here,” said Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, 100th SFS unit evaluator.
“The new Airmen coming straight from technical training have a foundation of knowledge from that training; we build on that and teach them how apply their training with real world applications. Teaching new Airmen is the responsibility of the entire flight, but the NCO corps works hard to be as knowledgeable as possible to guide the incoming Airmen,” Johnson said.
The defenders here accomplish the mission everyday with room to spare and this is a feat on its own, especially when you consider part of the force is still in upgrade training.
“The number of defenders in upgrade training fluctuates due to PCS season and deployments,” said Staff Sgt. Jessica Vallee, 100th Security Forces Squadron unit training manager. “Here at RAF Mildenhall, we have a high tempo, with up to 30 percent of the squadron in upgrade training at times. When we receive a new Airman from technical school, we get them spun up and afterwards they may PCS after only a year or less of being a five level.”
The Bloody Hundredth relies on the 100th SFS to keep the base safe so it can accomplish the mission. Airmen of the 100th ARW are able to concentrate fully on the mission without worrying about the base’s safety. Furthermore, some of those SFS memebers aren’t fully trained yet; however, they still accomplish their mission everyday.