It does not matter what situation 88th Security Forces Squadron Defenders find themselves in. Members of Team Wright-Patt can rest assured they are trained and ready to respond.
The squadron is responsible for all law enforcement around the installation, to include base housing, as well ensuring access points are properly manned and the airfield is secured, 365 days a year.
To do that effectively, Master Sgt. Jordan Gaddis and his team of certified trainers oversee annual training requirements for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Defenders.
“Our instructors in my section specifically conduct all of our annual training the security forces member would need from a certified instructor,” said Gaddis, NCO in charge of 88 SFS training. “For example, how to arm up on a daily basis, and their ‘use of force’ training to make sure they know when they can and cannot use certain types of force during the course of the duties.”
According to Gaddis, the Air Force Security Forces Center requires that all Defenders complete a minimum of 218 training hours annually.
“Seventy-five of those hours are doing what’s called ‘Bylaw’ training, which is a DOD-mandated topic, then we have 101 hours of post training, which covers police officer standards and training,” he said. “We are able to pick and choose from a variety of training topics for the remaining hours based on the requirements of our commander.”
The squadron is scheduled to conduct 227 hours of training in 2022.
“We are giving some additional training that we felt would be beneficial to our Defenders,” Gaddis said.
However, not all of the training is conducted in the classroom. Some of it is done on the job.
“It just depends on the topic and if it requires a certified instructor, or proctored test,” he added. “We value our Defenders and their off time, so we try and streamline the training as much as possible to ensure they have the proper time to recover and be the resilient ‘Defender’ we all depend on.”
Some training courses include firearms, less-than-lethal force tactics using the baton or Taser, and medical classes such as Self Aid Buddy Care and CPR.
Once a new ‘Defender’ arrives on station, Gaddis and his team put them through Phase 1 training. It takes about 15 days and consists of more than 180 hours.
“It’s during this phase that we are able to get the Airman acclimated to Wright-Patt, conduct any training that specifically applies to us, as well as go over local policies and procedures that they will need to know,” he said.
Once Phase 1 is complete, Airmen move into specialized training for their assigned section. Patrol, investigations and serving as a Base Defense Operations Center controller are among areas that require specific training.
Throughout the year, the 88 SFS training section also arranges collaborative sessions with other base offices, including the Fire Department and Air Force Office of Special Investigations detachment, as well as local police departments.
“The goal is to know how each other works, so that if we are on a call together, we can respond effectively,” Gaddis said.
A good example of this is joint training with the Fire Department for the unit’s Rescue Task Force.
“In the event of an active shooter, we would send Defenders into the building with firefighters that are EMT-qualified,” he said. “This way, the security forces members can be looking for the shooter while also providing cover for the medical personnel so that they can render aid to the wounded individuals.”
Training put to use
Staff Sgt. Jacob Swisher is a “Defender” with 12 years of experience across four different Air Force installations. He currently works as a Base Defense Operations Center controller with 88 SFS.
“During my career so far, I’ve been able to do some great local training, as well as joint training with our sister services,” he said. “Training like the Army’s Military Police Investigator Course in Missouri, special forces communications courses in places like England and the Army Air Assault School, for example.
“I believe that the Air Force and security forces are doing a great job of pushing out the training needed and getting people trained up and ready to do their jobs. You simply can’t have enough training.”
Swisher identifies two separate instances where his training paid off.
“I once was called out to a domestic-violence (incident) at a home in base housing. When we arrived, no one answered the door,” he said. “As a result, I and the other ‘Defender’ had to use our training to kick the door in and clear the home in order to ensure everyone was safe, while also separating the victim, offender and any potential witnesses in order to secure the scene.
“Luckily, these types of calls are not an everyday occurrence, but that training built muscle memory … so I knew what to do when the situation presented itself.”
Another time, he responded to the scene of a major vehicle accident.
“I was one of the first people to arrive, and I had to pull an individual out of their car,” Swisher said. “Because of my training, I knew how to do that safely, keeping in mind any possible neck or spine injuries, and how to keep them calm while checking them for injuries and taking their vitals.”
Swisher and Gaddis agree that training is vital to their career field.
“I love training, and believe it’s vital that we share our experiences with each other,” Swisher said. “I’m always up for constructive criticism because I know there’s people that have way more knowledge than I do, and know different ways to do things.”