Airmen come together to strengthen 386th AEW security
By Senior Airman JaNae Capuno, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 27, 2020
ALI AL SALEM AIR BASE, Kuwait --
A common expression in the Air Force is, “I’m an Airman first. My job comes second.”
This is the definition of what the mission entails for Force Protection Airmen encompassing 38 different career fields deployed to the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait.
Force Protection (FP) Airmen assist in safeguarding the base and its populace. These Airmen often act as security escorts and may deter insider threats by ensuring Other Country Nationals (OCNs) complete duties within their service contracts.
“FP’s are the last line of defense,” said Senior Master Sgt. Shaylor Bernard, 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron FP superintendent. “They’re the buffer between securities; there is always that one chance that there could be an insider threat. The FPs are there for deterrence.”
These Airmen specialize in a variety of jobs at their home station, but they are straying away from their regular duties to assist with Force Protection.
“Back at home station, I work as an avionics backshop technician troubleshooting and repairing electronic components from the F-15E Strike Eagle,” said Senior Airman Leyli Rustamli, 386th ECES FP member. “Becoming an FP has given me a new perspective on the mission of the Air Force. I interact with OCNs and learn about their lives and traditions, fostering partnerships, and friendships with people from all over the world.”
Working as an FP allows possible first-time deployed Airmen to operate in a joint military environment, work with allied partners, and interact with Airmen from around the world.
“As FP, we get to work with all units on this facility, including military forces from the U.S., Canada, Sweden and more,” Rustamli said. “I get to meet unique individuals, learn about their backgrounds and see how they influence the environment on this base.”
Typically, transitioning 38 career fields into one team isn’t an easy feat; but Bernard has valuable experiences that come from his journey of cross-training while in the Air Force.
“This is easy if you ask me, this is my third career field,” Bernard laughed. “I’ve been involved with different [Air Force Specialty Codes], so I have been exposed to different Air Force cultures - and culturally is where the challenge lies.”
Each different career field throughout the Air Force carries its own legacy and lifestyle built on experience and camaraderie. Regardless of their origins, however, FP expects a cohesive team that can work together.
“For example, the way the culture is in the medical world isn’t the same as it is in maintenance, admin, [public affairs], and so on,” Bernard said. “It’s fusing all of those cultures, and also getting them to forget those cultures while in FP. We’re one team- we’re FP, and our culture is built on respect.”
Rustamli, like many other Airmen, was excited for the chance to experience something outside the norm of her daily tasks.
“If anyone gets an opportunity to come out here and work as an FP, they absolutely should,” Rustamli said. “It is a great opportunity to learn and grow as a leader and as an Airman.”
Many Airmen look forward to experiencing a different mission and diving into a different mindset when tasked with an FP assignment. Ultimately, being in FP solidifies the core values of “Service before Self” and “Excellence in All We Do,” and can help someone realize there are different ways to interact with their peers.