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Security forces: our first line of defense

Security forces: our first line of defense

2nd Security Forces Squadron Airmen welcome people at the main gate entrance at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Jan. 5, 2018. 2nd SFS Airmen patrol the main gate 24 hours a day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sydney Campbell)

Security forces: our first line of defense

Airman Dylan Gauthier, 2nd Security Forces Squadron installation patrolman, hands an identification card back to an Airman as they enter Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Jan. 5, 2018. The base requires 100% identification check from military personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sydney Campbell)

Security forces: our first line of defense

Airman 1st Class Skyler Sexton, 2nd Security Forces Squadron reports analysis clerk, monitors base patrons as they enter the installation through the main gate entrance to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Jan. 5, 2018. 2nd SFS Airmen are trained in various aspects of base security, including patrolling the installation and filing reports. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sydney Campbell)

Security forces: our first line of defense

2nd Security Forces Squadron staff support Airmen check the identification of people coming through the main gate entrance at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Jan. 5, 2018. More lanes are opened when there is heavy traffic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sydney Campbell)

Security forces: our first line of defense

2nd Security Forces Squadron staff support Airmen check the identification of people coming through the main gate entrance at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Jan. 5, 2018. The base requires 100% identification check from military personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sydney Campbell)

Security forces: our first line of defense

Airman Dylan Gauthier, 2nd Security Forces Squadron installation patrolman, checks identification cards for people to get through the main gate entrance at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Jan. 5, 2018. Traffic may get backed up during rush hours, but additional SFS Airmen help man the gates to keep traffic flowing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sydney Campbell)

Security forces: our first line of defense

Senior Airman Victor Anciano-Suezo, 2nd Security Forces Squadron reports analysis clerk, directs a bus onto Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Jan. 5, 2018. All passengers of the bus must also show their ID cards to get onto base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sydney Campbell)

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.