Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York -- Thirty personnel from the 174th Attack Wing's Security Forces Squadron (SFS) returned home recently to Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York after a successful six-month deployment to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. The deployment was the fourth overseas mission for the 174th SFS since 2005.
The primary mission of the 174th personnel was to secure Bagram, its perimeter, assets and most importantly its personnel. Beyond the normal routine of providing flight line and general base security, however, the unit was responsible for a wide array of distinct security missions.
A key role of the deployers was to prevent security breaches involving the large number of local Afghanis who worked on the base. Senior Master Sgt. Todd Day met that role head-on while serving as the Non Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of the Pedestrian Entry Control Point (ECP), a place where 5,500 locals entered the base daily. On a daily basis Day thwarted efforts to smuggle contraband onto the base and used innovative countermeasures to prevent suicide bomber attacks. Throughout the deployment Day worked with the assistance of local security personnel to secure the base, and due to his diligent effort to foster a better working relationship he created a better working environment and the mission was completed more effectively.
Doing more with less is not a new concept to the Air National Guard, but Tech. Sgt. Michael McQuown, the resident "MacGyver" on the deployment, took that axiom to a new level. As a key adviser to the Commander with regard to the civilian-to-military and military-to-civilian impact of the base's mission within Afghanistan, McQuown's extensive interaction with local nationals gave him a greater appreciation of the situation in county. He frequently went "outside the wire" to help local residents with locating wells, repairing equipment, pouring concrete and fixing wells. "I was particularly impressed with the resourcefulness of the nationals," recalled McQuown. "For example, I routinely watched women collect cow manure and make patties out them; after which they were dried to be burned and used as heat source."
When serving in a hostile environment, building strong relationships with not only the local populous, but also other deployed U.S. personnel from different units across the military is essential. Master Sgt. James Gallup, who served as the NCOIC of Bagram's Bravo Sector which included several ECP's, a hospital and fly-away missions, had the opportunity to manage a wide variety of security forces personnel. In so doing, he developed a strong appreciation for the different skills that each member brought to the fight, and obtained maximum effort from each individual.
Some of the 174th deployed personnel also had to step outside of their normal duties to complete the mission. One such person was Staff Sgt. Ronald Atwood, who became a tactical communications and electronic warfare specialist to protect U.S. troops and secure the base from outside threats. After graduating from an intensive seven day course on Bagram, his quickly employed his new skills to ensure that counter IED systems such as the CREW Duke and Vehicle Receiver Jammer were functioning properly before military personnel broke the wire.
Another member who stepped outside his previous training and played a key role in protecting fellow American military personnel was Tech. Sgt. Terrence Buckman. While serving as the Battle NCO for the Joint Defense Operations Center (JDOC) on Bagram, he managed a variety of patrols outside the wire. His duties included providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support, medevac resources and any other service that was needed. By streamlining the coordination of joint forces in response to enemy contact, Buckman kept people alive.
The next time you see a member of the security forces at the gate or around the base, take a moment to thank them, as they're not only your wingman, but they keep the places you work and live safe.