Military News

Monday, February 01, 2016

Dover Security Forces Squadron implements Staff Arming Program

by Senior Airman William Johnson
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

2/1/2016 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del.  -- The threat to global security is ever present and with the rise of homegrown violent extremism and lone wolf attacks, the Air Force has reviewed its force protection and security policies, programs and procedures to better protect its Airmen and their families.

Since the fall of 2015, security experts and senior leadership at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, have worked meticulously on selective arming initiatives, called the Eagle Shield Program, to enhance the protection of all base personnel. One of these selective arming programs under Eagle Shield is the Security Forces Staff Arming Program.

Under the Security Forces Staff Arming Program, all security forces staff members have the ability to arm up with a M4 rifle or M9 handgun. This affords Team Dover additional armed defenders, providing a 200 percent increase in their response force.

"Now staff members are able to respond in the case where our patrols run into an active shooter incident or any incident where they might need backup," said Lt. Col. Dana Metzger, 436th Security Forces Squadron commander. "We have an immediate response capability that reduces the amount of time it takes to respond to an event that is happening."

Col. Michael Grismer, 436th Airlift Wing commander, has also authorized, under Air Force Instruction, security forces staff members to transport their government weapons in their privately owned vehicles on the installation.  This allows armed staff members to respond to emergency events in a greater capacity, potentially saving lives in the process.

"We can't stop an active shooter incident from happening," said Metzger. "But what we've found is that by getting to a scene quicker, we can limit that individual from doing the maximum amount of damage. The more patrolmen that I have enables us to reduce that time frame; saving lives and reducing damage."

Staff Sgt. Joshua Botto, 436th SFS trainer, said it takes only a few minutes to arm one defender, so by arming SFS staff members at the start of the duty day, they are saving valuable time in the event they need to respond to an emergency.

"They are armed with a M9 and they have all of their gear with them at work," said Botto. "So if there were a situation where they are needed, we don't have to spend that extra time to go and arm them up."

To cut down response time, additional SFS staff members will perform their daily duties while being armed and outfitted with the same gear as on-duty patrol forces. If called upon, they are available for immediate response and will respond in designated SFS vehicles. If additional responders are needed, other staff members can quickly don the rest of their gear and respond in additional security forces vehicles or POVs as needed.

Staff Sgt. John Broughal, 436th SFS unit training manager, said the biggest challenge with the program has been getting the base populace accustomed to seeing more security forces Airmen with guns, but he said this challenge also comes with its advantages.

"It acts as a deterrence tool," said Broughal. "It gives us more presence out there and enables us to shift the mindset that there are more cops carrying a firearm on the installation."

As terrorist and lone wolf attackers continue to evolve their tactics and target selections, the 436th SFS will continue to defend its flock as effectively and safely as possible.

"This is the first time that the Department of Defense, the Air Force and Dover has actually started to change our mindset on how we are going to react to these new threats we are going to be faced with," said Metzger. "We are trying to change the culture and change the mindset of everyone around us so that they know we got their six and we are changing our tactics to match and counter that of the bad guys."

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