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Protect and serve: Defenders respond to real-world threat

82nd Security Forces Squadron

Senior Airman Ramon Brown, 82nd Security Forces Squadron patrolman, checks a common access card at Missile Road gate Dec. 7, 2017, at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. The entry controller is the first line of defense in security operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Carranza)

82nd Security Forces Squadron

Staff Sgt. John Workins, 82nd Security Forces Squadron flight sergeant, calls out shift postings during guard mount Dec. 8, 2017, at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. Guard mount is a pre-shift briefing in which defenders pass on information from the squadron and off-going shift before heading to their respective posts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Carranza)

82nd Security Forces Squadron

Airman 1st Class Tyler Burnett, 82nd Security Forces Squadron patrolman (left), observes Airman 1st Class Dustin Huynh, 82nd SFS entry controller (right), conduct vehicle changeover Dec. 8, 2017, at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. Vehicle inspection is necessary to ensure the patrol cruiser is serviceable for the duration of the shift. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Carranza)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

People arriving for work or other business at Sheppard Air Force Base the morning of Dec. 4 were greeted with long lines and equally long waits at base gates, likely causing some frustration.

What those motorists didn’t know was the 82nd Security Forces Squadron was working behind the scenes on a potentially dangerous real-world situation that caused the defenders to shut down the Missile Road gate, rerouting people to the Hospital and Main gates.

The cause was the detection of a chemical associated with explosives that was found on a vehicle at the commercial vehicle inspection area on Missile Road.

Master Sgt. David Rogers, 82nd SFS flight chief, said Airmen responded in a team effort, led by Senior Airman Kolby Broussard.

“Here I have a senior airman leading the other Airmen — who are not security forces — and making decisions on the spot as the influx of traffic was diverted his way,” he said.

Rogers said although entry control Airmen are assigned to a static post and aren’t on the forefront of an incident response, their duty is crucial in maintaining the flow of security operations.

Broussard said through his training and experience, he has come to appreciate the necessity of operations at base gates.

“Whenever you’re a young Airman, you feel like it’s not that important performing entry controller duties,” he said. “Now that I am a senior airman, I see how important it is and notice people being appreciative of us being out in the cold, hot; sweating or freezing to ensure their security.”

While the threat response was in progress, mobile patrol units got into position and an alternate vehicle search area was designated to continue inspections.

Staff Sgt. Dustin Martin, 82nd SFS assistant flight chief, said Airmen adapted to the situation and made quick decisions.

“Our patrolmen were essential in mitigating traffic and directing commercial vehicles that needed to be searched (in an orderly fashion),” he said.

Not only were SFS Airmen handling the potentially explosive situation, but they also had to respond to an in-flight emergency, Rogers said.

An explosive ordinance team from Fort Sill completed a sweep of the area, determining there were no findings of explosive materials. The Missile Road gate was opened after 9 a.m.

“At the end of the day, our mission is maintaining security,” Broussard said. “Making sure we perform professionally and efficiently is our goal.”

Defending base personnel and assets 24/7, 365 days a year is not an easy task for a person, but the defenders at Sheppard perform their law enforcement and base defense duties exceptionally, Rogers said.