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103rd Security Forces Squadron "Ghosts of the Base"

Master Sgt. Joseph Paluso, security forces specialist, 103rd Security Forces Squadron, provides cover for Tech Sgt. Marc Cioto, a fellow security forces specialist, as he performs a standing search of Staff Sgt. Ryan Brown, computer operations specialist, 103rd Communications Squadron, during a training simulation Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn.  (U.S. Air Force photo by SSgt Erin McNamara)

Master Sgt. Joseph Paluso, security forces specialist, 103rd Security Forces Squadron, provides cover for Tech Sgt. Marc Cioto, a fellow security forces specialist, as he performs a standing search of Staff Sgt. Ryan Brown, computer operations specialist, 103rd Communications Squadron, during a training simulation Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn. (U.S. Air Force photo by SSgt Erin McNamara)

BRADLEY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, East Granby, Conn. -- Another successful drill is completed by the members of the 103rd Airlift Wing, most head home; others gather for some after-hours camaraderie. Eventually, they return home, leaving the base, their duty sections, and the unit's aircraft in the rearview mirror. To most, 4:30 p.m. on a Sunday means an end to the duty day, some won't return to duty for an entire month. But for others, the duty day has just begun. 

"We are the ghosts of the base," said SSgt Jessica Roy, 103rd Security Forces, Security Controller, "We are always here but not always seen." 

The 103rd Security Forces Squadron is the one-stop shop for all base security needs. These watchful keepers of the castle constantly protect our place of business, during off duty hours, through the dead of the night, and even on Christmas. They keep the base, our resources and our personnel secure. Running a twenty-four hour operation, they perform law enforcement, physical security, initial investigations for criminal activity, and customer service. 

Now, customer service is not the first thing to come to mind with security, but the 103rd Security Forces Squadron has the most important customer service job of all, being on the other end of a 911 emergency call. Whether in need of medical attention, security help, or in case of a fire, the Security Forces Control Center is the first to receive, then coordinate all necessary emergency information to corresponding emergency responders. 

Transferring emergency messages is only part of being a SFCC dispatcher. Security Forces aid in transferring calls from deployed personnel overseas to loved ones back home. Our troops overseas are allowed a limited amount of time to call back home to their loved ones. Having security forces help transfer calls allows troops from our base to hear a familiar voice when trying to reach back home. 

In addition to these essential customer related jobs, Security Forces must train extensively to complete their wartime and peacetime mission. Using squadron-level exercises on drill weekends, Security Forces can ensure personnel are trained for duty overseas and refreshed on all the perishable skills that are part of the job. 

During live-fire exercises, Security Forces run through scenarios that test their mettle using blank rounds in their weapons, to allow for a safe yet realistic training experience. Not all training is performed with blanks however. The Combat Arm Training and Maintenance section is tasked with keeping Security Forces and the base populous qualified in a multitude of small arms with live fire experience. 

"The M4 is my favorite small arms. We handle it on a daily basis. It's more versatile than the other small arms; an every day duty weapon," states Tech. Sgt. Walter Cichon, 103rd Security Forces, CATM NCOIC. 

Security Forces personnel may be qualified in the M4 Rifle, a smaller lighter version of the M16A2; the M203 grenade launcher, the belt-fed M249 squad automatic weapon and the gas powered, belt fed M240 Bravo medium machine gun. In special training courses, Security Forces members get the opportunity to be familiarized with the MK19, an automatic grenade launcher that fires up to 375 to 400 rounds per minute and the vehicle mounted .50 Caliber heavy machine gun. 

Since Sept. 11, the 103rd Security Forces Squadron has averaged one deployment a year, with three mobilizations in addition to their Air Expeditionary Force rotations. Recently, they have deployed to Kyrgykistan, the United Arab Emirates, Diego Garcia, Kuwait, and other Middle Eastern locations, taking a more active role in the Global War on Terror. 

Stateside they have been mobilized in support of Operation Jump Start, helping the Border Patrol, Hurricane Katrina disaster relief and for the state of Connecticut to augment local law enforcement by patrolling trains and ferries along side their counterparts within the Connecticut Army National Guard. 

Life for the 103rd Security Forces Squadron is not all exercises and work; there's also competition. For the past three years, they have been taking part in the Connecticut SWAT Challenge. This event pits police SWAT teams, State Police Emergency Response Teams, Department of Correction Special Operations Groups, military units, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons on a 5.7 mile course with 24 individual testing stations. In 2008, 33 teams from the northeast region entered in the competition and our own 103rd Security Forces Squadron took fourth place. 

While competition can prove who is a cut above the rest, the 103rd Security Forces Squadron believes they are all still cut of the same cloth. The Security Forces mission is very similar to the Army's Military Police mission. 

"We train from the same Army Field Manuals and are trained as light infantry and law enforcement. This has always been the case," commented Chief Master Sgt. Tim Shaw, 103rd Security Forces, Chief of Security Forces. 

Security Forces supports their diverse mission with a diverse team. According to Roy, the 103rd Security Forces Squadron has more women enlisted than any other Security Forces unit she has deployed with. They continue to show diversity with the various civilian jobs their weekend warriors have. From computer programmer to state police, the 103rd Security Forces Squadron embraces their different backgrounds and come together to accomplish one goal. To keep the men and women of the 103rd Airlift Wing, and our resources, safe and secure, while maintaining mission readiness for future deployments.