The 435th Security Forces Squadron received the Best Small Security Forces Unit Award for 2019 in all of U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA).
Each year, security forces units across the Air Force compete in their major command (MAJCOM) for the best small, medium and large unit awards. The award recognizes the Airmen’s hard work and dedication to the mission.
“Our unit accomplished so many things this past year, but a couple of the really big lifts were running the Ground Combat Readiness Training Center for USAFE-AFAFRICA,” said Maj. Paul Dinkins, 435th SFS commander. “This last year was important due to all the new training courses that were rolled out as a part of the Year of the Defender Initiative. Our team taught over 30 courses and spent over 240 days of training, making Defenders more lethal and ready for the current challenges we might face.”
After the roll-out of the Air Force Chief of Staff’s initiative, the 435th SFS kicked it into gear.
“The unit has been at the forefront of training Defenders across USAFE-AFAFRICA on topics ranging from dismounted patrols to establishing the career field’s new Leader Led Training initiative,” said Senior Master Sgt. Richard Holder, 435th SFS superintendent. “With the LLT program, we take a squadron’s best noncommissioned officers and train them on resiliency, combatives and less lethal weapons to go back to their units and run their flight’s training program. Additionally, we re-established USAFE-AFAFRICA’s Nuclear Security Tactical Leaders Course, training defenders on advanced tactics, techniques and procedures in protecting one of DoD’s most critical assets.”
Among its many accomplishments, the unit’s Pheonix First in Security Team (FIST) supported Cyclone Idai relief.
“Our Phoenix FIST deployed in support of the humanitarian relief operation in Mozambique, Africa, where they received 28 aircraft, assisted in the construction of 84 aid pallets weighing 340 tons, and supplied four separate locations in support of 3 million displaced local nationals,” Holder said.
Furthermore, the 435th SFS recognized the need for a mock C-130 aircraft trainer which would ultimately save the Air Force resources and time.
“Prior to its construction, our personnel would have to secure transportation and drive to Rhine Ordnance Barracks to meet up with Army counterparts to conduct pre-jump training using their mock aircraft,” Holder said. “Pre-jump is required training before performing static line jumps from an aircraft. The mock C-130 is used to simulate a jumper’s actions such as exiting the aircraft, along with emergency procedures. We knew if we had our own mock aircraft, we would save our personnel time and the Air Force money in terms of vehicle usage.”
Their initial plan for the mock aircraft rendered steep costs, but using their resources, they discovered a less expensive solution.
“We first tried to outsource the project which would have cost upwards of $450,000,” he said. “We were able to reach out to our sister squadron, the 435th CTS, to build the aircraft for us. In the end, it only cost $60,000. Now, we save our jumpers 72 man-hours yearly, along with providing a facility within walking distance where our airborne personnel and jumpmasters can hone their skillsets.”
Training practices such as these are an essential part of the Defenders’ mission, which is vast and comes with its challenges.
“When you look at the National Defense Strategy, we have new challenges to our military advantage,” Dinkins said. “Every environment should be treated as contested and there are no safe havens. When we look at the DoD’s objectives, there are a couple we contribute to directly.
“The first is deterring our adversaries from aggression against our vital interests,” he continued. “Every day we are deterring by continuing to sharpen our skills and operate in new ways. We know our adversaries are doing their homework and we want them to see that a fight with us is not a fight worth having.
“Secondly, we defend our allies from military aggression, bolster partners against coercion and fairly share responsibilities for common defense. Many of the exercises and training opportunities here in Europe are robust, and the amount of touch points we get with our partners is incredible.”
The unit’s efforts establish and maintain positive relationships across NATO and other partner nations.
“Demonstrating that we have their back and they have ours is a tangible way to present a unified front across the MAJCOM and let our adversaries know that it’s a fight they don’t want,” Dinkins said.
Sharing knowledge with their partners and fellow Defenders across the MAJCOM falls in line with DoD priorities. These priorities drive the Air Force mission.
“Our approach in getting after these main areas is consistent with the National Defense Strategy,” Dinkins said. “We build a more lethal force on an almost daily basis with our instructors, ensuring not just our unit, but every security forces unit in USAFE-AFAFRICA has the best trained Airmen. We strengthen alliances and attract new partners by conducting robust field training exercises in Germany and France or when we support humanitarian operations in Africa.”
Defenders continue to be at the forefront of every installation, safeguarding the base and deterring adversaries. Their dedication allows the mission to move forward with leadership’s vision.
“The mission would not happen without the hard work of our Airmen,” Holder said. “Our people are constantly challenging themselves and the people they train. I truly appreciate their resilience and initiative in getting after our leaders’ priorities from the squadron level all the way to the CSAF. The men and women of the 435th SFS make coming to work enjoyable and exciting on a daily basis. For that, I thank them.”
The 435th SFS will move on to compete for the Best Small Security Forces Unit at the Air Force level.