SOUTHWEST ASIA | The training and experience Air National Guard and Reserve law enforcement Airmen gain in their civilian and military careers help keep people safe from enemies foreign and domestic. Many of these security forces members, or defenders, bring the knowledge of both careers to make them more effective both at home and abroad.
Master Sgt. Christopher Scott, 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron operations noncommissioned officer in charge, is one of over 25 defenders currently deployed and attached to the squadron, with both a civilian and military law enforcement background.
“As far as being a civilian police officer, we get a lot of calls compared to military installation law enforcement,” said Scott. “I feel like that has better prepared me for those high intensity calls or situations. I can curve that adrenaline and calmly think through the process.”
Scott has been an Oklahoma City police officer for 10 years, and his home unit is the 507th SFS, at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.
The contact security forces Airmen have with civilians is limited and the majority of people they deal with are professional military members or retirees. However, law enforcement in the military is broader as far as what the job entails, especially in a deployed environment.
“As a civilian [police officer], I’m not worried about suicide bombers, asset protection, or security of an installation,” Scott said. “With security forces, we are responsible for a particular post or area and although we conduct a lot of security measures, a big portion of the job is waiting for something to happen.”
Tech. Sgt. Domenic Mash, 386th ESFS training NCOIC, has been a deputy sheriff with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office in Maryland for the past four years, and is attached to the 911th SFS, Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania.
“I train my people from my experiences,” said Mash. “There is a bigger safety risk when you are dealing with the civilian public. I believe there are some training aspects I feel are safer from the civilian stand point that the military hasn’t adopted yet.”
The dual training, experience and skills these men and women bring to the table are undeniably important to the fight.
“No matter which job I’m at, the training I receive always crosses over to the other side,” said Senior Airman Joshua Suss, 386th ESFS fire team member and Great Bend, Kansas police officer, deployed from the 22nd SFS at McConnell AFB, Kansas. “I can be training on defense tactics in my home department and turn around and do the same training for my reserve unit. As a law enforcement officer, you get in fights and the training you receive helps you get the job done.”
The three Airmen have eight deployments between them and over 21 years of security forces experience. The calling to protect and serve varies between all three, but the reason for serving their country was the same.
“I have always had a military mentality,” Scott concluded. “Both my grandfathers were in World War II and one was a prisoner of war for three years. If you want the great things our country has to offer, you have to give something back.”