BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La., --
Whether it is rush hour or the middle of the night, situational awareness is critical when guarding the gate. Every time someone enters the base, a security forces Airman is surveying and monitoring them to ensure there are no threats or red flags that could compromise the base and the safety of Airmen and their families.
The 2nd Security Forces Squadron is tasked with keeping Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, secure.
“A normal every day shift is long,” said Senior Airman Dakota Webster, 2nd SFS installation patrolman. “We stand so much, checking identification, looking for suspicious behavior and keeping people out that shouldn’t be on base.”
While the day-to-day routines can be repetitive, the defenders must always be prepared for anything.
“I have had some crazy experiences,” said Senior Airman Joshua Hamblett, 2nd SFS installation patrolman. “Once, a gentleman came up to the gate and told me he wanted to speak to General Rand about a message from Russia, Syria and China. And that if he didn’t speak to him directly, the base would get bombed.”
Hamblett was a newer Airman manning the post at the time. Despite this, it was up to him to handle the situation.
“I spoke with the man and asked him to repeat the instructions for me,” Hamblett said. “I called the security forces office and relayed the information. Within a few minutes my fellow 2nd SFS Airmen were there to help. Ultimately the office of special investigations took him, but if I had not been there who knows what would have happened.”
Handling all situations professionally is key to defending the base, whether someone appears threatening or appears to be in need. Sometimes this professionalism takes time.
“While inspecting identifications one day, I noticed a pregnant woman was in distress,” Webster said. “I checked to make sure she was fine and could operate the vehicle safely.
“When the next vehicle pulled up, a senior master sergeant yelled at me saying that I should talk to my buddies on my own time,” Webster continued. “I had to handle the situation, while being calm and ensuring him I was simply making sure a fellow Airman was okay and able to drive.”
While the job can have its moments of frustration, defenders understand the importance of what they do.
“I like that I protect the base,” Hamblett said. “It is my job to protect people no matter what, and I take it very seriously.”
It’s this dedication from Airmen such as Hamblett who are the first line of defense for everyone on base, giving people peace of mind to complete their mission, day or night, rain or shine.