EAST GRANBY, Conn. – Airmen from the 103rd Security Forces Squadron partnered with the 103rd Maintenance Group June 5 to conduct flight line security training. The course is part of an Air Force effort to develop multi-capable Airmen embodying the Ability to Survive and Operate (ATSO) mindset.
During two training sessions throughout the day, Security Forces instructors taught aircraft maintainers how to use their familiarity with flight line operations and personnel to bolster the security of restricted areas and detect if something or someone may be out of the ordinary.
“Today was more of a baseline training that encompassed how they are responsible for the [aircraft],” said Tech. Sgt. Dedrick Baublitz, 103rd Security Forces Squadron instructor. “It gave them their responsibilities as far as being the first line of defense because they are the subject matter experts of all the personnel that are in maintenance. They’d be the first person to pick out if someone doesn’t belong.”
The restricted area of a U.S. Air Force flight line is typically indicated by a red line perimeter marked on the pavement. Personnel with the appropriate badge may access the restricted area through marked entry control points. Security Forces personnel patrol the area to prevent access by unauthorized personnel and respond to anyone who crosses directly over the red line instead of an entry control point.
Baublitz emphasized the use of interpersonal skills to talk through a situation and figure out if a person is a potential threat or just having a bad day.
“A lot of the time when people do cross the red line not using the entry control points, it’s because they forget for a moment or they make a mistake — everybody is human,” said Baublitz. “So we’ll ask, ‘Do you realize you just broke red? Do you have a restricted area badge? Let’s figure this out.’”
Maintainers practiced challenge techniques on the Bradley Air National Guard Base flight line to get experience working through a potential threat situation. The Airmen also learned how to detain or relocate a potential intruder until Security Forces arrive.
“No matter where we go or where we deploy as aircraft maintainers, our job is to protect the aircraft as well as maintain it, and what better way than to get with Security Forces and learn the basic challenging procedures if someone were to cross the red line,” said Capt. Jennifer Artiaco, 103rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. “If we were to go to an austere environment and we had to protect the airplane on our own outside of here, we have to build those multi-capable Airmen so that they do feel confident in themselves to conduct security measures.”
Developing multi-capable Airmen prepares the force to operate within the U.S. Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment model — a method to engage near-peer competitors in contested, austere environments.
“We can no longer expect to operate in the same relatively uncontested environments we experienced during the last 20 years,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Pagoni, 103rd Maintenance Group deputy commander. “The next fight will require us to do more with less. This new environment will challenge our maintainers to perform their core [job] duties while simultaneously providing support to other base functions. This has been described throughout the Air Force as the multi-capable Airmen (MCA) concept. This weekend’s training is a preliminary step for the maintenance group to bring the MCA concept to the 103rd Airlift Wing.”
The training was mutually beneficial, Artiaco said.
"It’s been such a great experience,” said Artiaco. “I think the more we can network and the more we’re reaching out and partnering, the better off we’ll be. We’ll be able to have those experiences and get that knowledge-base to have multi-capable Airmen.”
“It’s another piece to strengthen the force overall,” said Baublitz. “The maintenance group slogan, ‘Keep ‘em Flying,’ is what we’re all here to do. Everyone piggybacks off one another to get that mission done, and this training is going to help.”