Uniform Shredding Supports Force Protection


UNDISCLOSED LOCATION - On Sept. 14, 2012, 15 Taliban members were dressed in U.S. Army uniforms when they cut through concertina wire and began an assault on Camp Bastion resulting in the death of two U.S. Marines, more than a dozen American and British forces injured, destruction of six AV-8B Harrier jets and the damage of multiple U.S. and coalition aircraft.

Every Monday here at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing newly arrived members receive a Right Start briefing to give them the understanding of what it means to be part of the Grand Slam Wing and the 379th AEW commander’s intent. 

Bullet number three of the commander’s intent is, “Remain vigilant- force protection and safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

To mitigate the risk of the Camp Bastion incident every member can greatly enhance force protection efforts by disposing of uniform items properly, and that is where the members of the 379th Force Protection shop comes in. 

“The uniform shredding program is a base-wide program intended to properly dispose of any unwanted or worn out uniform items,” said Tech. Sgt. Patrick Keenan, the 379th AEW OPSEC program manager who is here on a one year remote tour and hails from Ischua, N.Y. Only uniform items need to go in the bins. It is a very important program from an operations security perspective because it prevents uniforms from ending up in the hands of adversaries who might try to use coalition uniforms to access a base and conduct attacks.”

The 379th AEW started the uniform shredding program as uniform items were being discarded in dumpsters and items were discovered in the local community. 

“From a uniform standpoint, typical violations are Airman Battle Uniforms and physical training uniforms disposed of in a dumpster,” Keenan said. “Even though the uniforms typically do not still have the nametapes, each represents an OPSEC violation.”

Anyone can participate in the program and any uniform item can be shredded. Fifteen bins are located throughout the base and clearly marked for Tuesday collection and Thursday shredding. 

However, not all uniform items are shredded. Serviceable items are collected by Slam Attic staff and are made available to members who can pick up items free of cost. Many of these items are barely used or new. 

“We maintain the only Airman’s Attic in U.S. Central Command area of responsibility and all items are accounted for,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Kitchen, Slam Attic president who is deployed here on a one year remote tour and an Altoona, Pa., native. “We’ve received OCP’s from members departing and have been able to outfit those traveling throughout the AOR who didn’t have them issued at home station. That’s another way the proper turn-in of uniforms supports the mission.”

The Slam Attic and the uniform shredding program prosper with the help of volunteers.

“This was my first time volunteering with the program,” said Airman 1st Class Ryan Peterson, a 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration apprentice deployed from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., and a Minneapolis native. “I took this opportunity to try something new and help out the base.”

For those who don’t want to take uniforms items home or have an unserviceable uniform, there is only one option for disposing of these items: use the 15 drop-off locations provided throughout the base. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure uniform items don’t fall into the hands of those who want to cause us harm and degrade mission capabilities.

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