Security Forces: Vigilant Airmen keep close watch on base’s safety
By Tyler Hemstreet , 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 04, 2007
MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Thousands of people drive by the inconspicuous booth just inside the Main Gate's entrance each day, paying no attention to the 62nd Security Forces Squadron Airman inside keeping a close eye on all the action.
If a hostile vehicle were to get through the Main Gate and make its way onto the base, the Airman in the booth could trigger tire shredders or close the gate's barriers halting the flow of incoming and outgoing traffic, said Staff Sgt. Mark Hill, 62nd SFS.
"The attacks on September 11, 2001 helped us see where we needed to step up on some of the security measures," he said.
Security forces Airmen patrol the base's roads 24 hours a day, performing law enforcement duties and checking to make sure there are no imminent threats to its population or infrastructure, Sergeant Hill said.
They also conduct random vehicle checks at the front gate to ensure safety for the base population, he said.
The law enforcement duties 62nd SFS Airmen perform include responding to domestic disturbances in housing, watching for people speeding on base, attending to vehicle accidents and apprehending shoplifters at the commissary and base exchange, Sergeant Hill said.
Using Skywatch, a device that elevates Airmen so they can get a better view of the flightline, security forces Airmen are able to keep a close watch on the fences that surround the base to make sure nobody is jumping over or cutting holes in it, said Senior Airman Ryan Flory, 62nd SFS.
Patrolmen also check on certain facilities to make sure they are locked up and secure, and there is constant surveillance of the railroad tracks that run through the base, Sergeant Hill said.
Though thorough, the current security measures will likely be ramped up in the coming months due to an additional 3,500 people coming on base as part of Rodeo in July.
"The security is a lot harder to keep tight when Rodeo comes in because you have all kinds of people flying and driving onto the base," Sergeant Hill said.
Events such as Rodeo and air shows also test each security forces Airman's security awareness, Airman Flory said.
During the 2005 air show here, security forces Airmen perched atop various hangers played the "eyes in the sky" role, armed with binoculars and radios to keep a close watch on the crowds, singling out anything that could be a threat and alerting patrols on the ground, he said.
And while 62nd SFS Airmen are singularly focused, paying attention to detail and prepared to respond to the most extreme threats, they also handle situations that require extra care, such as looking for lost children in base housing, with that same vigilance.
"It's all part of our civic duty," said Sergeant Hill with a smile.