Maxwell security forces contribute to deployed security

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman George Goslin
  • 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
They know what it's like to be civilians, and what it's like to serve as active duty. They work just like the rest of America, earning wages and supporting their families. What sets them apart is their willingness to put that way of life on hold to go to the opposite side of the world as defenders.

Twenty Security Forces Reservists from the 908th Security Forces Squadron deployed to the Transit Center at Manas in 2013 to safeguard thousands of Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines inside its walls.

"I was able to handpick some of my NCOs for this deployment, said Master Sgt. Steven Higginbotham, 376th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron flight chief. "Knowing how much I can trust and rely on people right from the start is priceless.

The ESFS is responsible for protecting aircraft, the flightline, and the perimeter on and off the base. Standing watch at all hours of the day, they provide initial visual assessments of security, as well as handle immediate response to any incident involving any aircraft or security breaches to include policing the base to maintain safety.

They aren't always posted together while on duty. A lot of the time, they are sprinkled throughout the ranks of active-duty members to form the flightline patrols, man the gates and secure the perimeter. Side by side, the Maxwell unit performs its mission of guarding the installation with other Airmen deployed from around the globe.

The defenders deployed from Maxwell AFB, Ala., supplement that effort as a team that has already built relationships and a level of trust that may be harder to come by for active-duty units. They call the same place home, and are close like family.

"There's a bond that we share with one another," said Tech. Sgt. Wesley Carnes, 376th ESFS response team leader. "Some active-duty personnel can be together for maybe four or five years before changing stations, whereas some of us have been together for 10 to 15 years. Being deployed with these people makes it feel like home."

"This deployment has been a great experience," said Senior Airman Cody Boyd, 376th ESFS patrolman. "It will help us when it comes time to take what we've learned back home and train the security forces at home who haven't deployed or had a chance to use their skills."

At home station, the members of the 908th SFS may only see each other when they drill, and accomplish requirements needing to be fulfilled before their next drill practice. Drill usually consists of two full days of tasks, including weapons qualifications on the M-240B light machine gun, M-4 rifle, M-9 pistol, medical appointments, computer-based training and exercises.

The distances some members travel for duty make it difficult to see each other, but they still maintain their friendships however possible.

"We try to hang out on the weekends, but it can be hard. We take advantage of social networks and call each other as often as possible," said Carnes.

Their families also keep in contact while the unit is away. Using the same social networking sites, they rely on one another for help and support, and for any updates about their loved ones while away.

"The families took it the hardest during the holiday season. I think I have it easier than my wife, because I only have to wake up and do my job to the best of my ability. She has to take care of our two kids along with the house and everything else," he said. "They're the silent heroes back home."

Boyd, who has a wife and son with a daughter on the way, said he tries to use his time here wisely. He is working toward personal goals involving physical fitness, education, and preparing to become a staff sergeant.

"I'm taking [Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support] tests right now working on my associate's in criminal justice," said Boyd. "To excel as an Airman, I'm trying to get a 100 percent score on my PT test while also getting ready to be a non-commissioned officer. I'm soaking up all the qualities I see in good leaders, and rejecting any negative ones I've observed over my time so far."

The team from Maxwell uses each other for support from the relationships carried over from home. They are able to make the Transit Center seem more like home for one another, enabling them to be more effective in securing the base's safety before taking their skills home to Alabama.