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Chief Master Sgt. Richard Parsons, 820th Security Forces Group superintendent, and Master Sgt. Darryl Miller, 820th SFG combat arms NCO in-charge, examine a plaque that will be awarded to the top team in the annual Commando Griffin competition. Four-man teams in the 820th SFG perform various tests including physical challenges and shooting competitions as part of the competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Parker Gyokeres)
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820th SFG celebrates 10 years of readiness, defense

Posted 3/19/2007   Updated 3/20/2007 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Parker Gyokeres
23rd Wing Public Affairs

3/19/2007 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The 820th Security Forces Group celebrated its 10th anniversary March 17, marking the milestone for the Air Force's only self-sufficient security forces group dedicated solely to contingency taskings. 

Since its reactivation in 1997 as an 80-member headquarters unit at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, the unit has grown to a force of three squadrons with approximately 680 people and 12 different career fields, said Col. John Decknick, 820th SFG commander. 

The group's history stretches to Vietnam, when air bases were losing aircraft and Airmen to mortar and rocket fire," said Colonel Decknick. The 820th SFG was formed as a part of Task Force 1041, to patrol and dominate the local area and protect Air Force people and resources. When the war ended, the unit was retired. 

Following the Khobar Towers attack, the Air Force again recognized the need to "fight the fight" not just inside the confines of the air bases, but outside as well, the colonel added. 

As a result, the 820th was reactivated in a ceremony at Lackland AFB, March 17, 1997.
In 2000, the 820th SFG was moved to Moody and increased from 80 Airmen to a full combat group. Three squadrons were created to ease stress on a high-deployment career field and to have a cadre of folks that trained and deployed together for tough missions, said the colonel. 

"Air Force Security Forces used to have 'pick up games,' where folks from multiple bases would meet at a mission area, and have to gel while accomplishing the mission," said the commander. "In war, this wasn't the best course of action. So the Air Force built the 820th SFG to have a solid, highly trained, professional team for both peace and wartime contingencies." 

Chief Master Sgt. Richard Parsons, 820th SFG superintendent, has been with the 820th SFG since its creation in 1997. 

"In the beginning, we were used in support of Operation Desert Watch," said the chief. "The group conducted regular rotations to help relieve the load from other security forces assets. Our true value was seen shortly after 9-11 when we deployed to a number of new bases and established defense operations throughout the Middle East." 

Today, the mostly volunteer group has more than 140 airborne positions, multiple Ranger, Air Assault and Pathfinder qualified personnel, and numerous other specialties, which offer the joint force commander multiple options in a combat environment, Chief Parsons said. 

The unique group is a fully self-sufficient combat entity, with its own cadre of physician assistants, independent duty medical technicians, satellite and computer communicators, intelligence specialists, an agent from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, vehicle mechanics, logistics personnel and personnel specialists. 

"We are the Air Force 911 team," said the chief. "We have proven repeatedly we can mobilize and execute the most difficult missions at a moment's notice. Our uniqueness is that we are 'joined to fight.' Multiple Air Force career fields have volunteered to focus primarily on the force protection mission. 

"It isn't that the remainder of the Air Force couldn't do the same missions," he added. "The difference is that we are constantly trained, well equipped and properly organized to expertly perform these missions right now, anywhere in the world." 

Leading the 820th is an honor and a matter of great pride, said Colonel Decknick. 

"I work around heroes every day, and all of them stand ready to fight the nation's battles," he said. "The group has been continuously deployed since 1997, and is the Air Force's first choice for tough missions where a higher level of training is required. I am proud to be their commander. 

"This team has won numerous awards in the past decade for both individual, squadron and group valor," the colonel continued. Many of our specialists are handpicked by their functional counterparts, and have brought us to new heights of combat capability." 

The 820th SFG will continue to add more capability and stay well informed of technological advances to ensure they have the best equipment and training for any future fight, said Colonel Decknick. 

"We've just received an unmanned aerial vehicle system," said the colonel. "A Humvee rollover trainer is scheduled to be installed next month. The active denial system is embedded with our operational experts and ready for the fight if needed. 

"In addition, our satellite communications capabilities, weapons improvements, training levels and other equipment continue to be the best," he added. "We will continue to hone our combat edge for the future fight."

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