Texas ANG Security Forces sharpen spear of Total Force
By Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain , 149th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 22, 2011
FORT BLISS, Texas -- In the picturesque desert of West Texas and New Mexico, members of the Texas Air National Guard's 204th Security Forces Squadron prepare U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard warfighters as they head toward forward operating locations across the globe.
A geographically-separated unit of the 149th Fighter Wing at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, the combat training unit conducts missions that range from law-and-order, base support operations, and area support operations (ASO), as well as sniper training.
Tech. Sgt. David Butler of Dallas, an instructor and combat veteran with more than 12 years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps and four years active-duty in the U.S. Air Force, was responsible for building the ASO program, and seeks to bring the reality of the war fight to his students based on his and others' experience.
"We push them mentally and physically here in the field," said Sergeant Butler. "They're going to be out by themselves ; they have no support once they leave the wire - that's it. Some response times might take up to an hour. If they're sitting there in a fire fight, they need to learn how to hold their own."
Part of the training requires the students to learn to properly identify hidden hazards.
Phillip Blackmon, a U.S. Army combat veteran who twice received the Purple Heart, now works with the 204th Security Forces Squadron in a civilian capacity to train students to identify and locate improvised explosive devices, and home-made explosives laboratories.
"This course is designed to frustrate you," Blackmon tells his students. "I would rather you to have it and not need it than need it and not have it."
As the program continues to build, the 204th has been able to draw on the multi-service experience of its professional instructor cadre, as well as the assets and infrastructure available at its location, Fort Bliss, Texas, a major U.S. Army installation.
"It's a mutually beneficial training environment," Sergeant Butler said. "The Army is real good about asking, 'What do you guys need?'"
Joint-training activities have included medical evacuation maneuvers involving Army Black Hawk helicopters, and the potential for increased joint exercises is on the horizon with national defense restructuring that is bringing new operations for the Army to Fort Bliss.
The training provided to students is designed to be as realistic as possible to limit as many surprises as possible before they deploy overseas.
"We want make sure everyone who comes through here gets pushed as hard as we can, so they can push just as hard down range and not have to worry about 'Can we do this?'" Sergeant Butler said. "I want them to know: 'Yes, we can! Because we did it here [at the 204th].'"