AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --
Al Dhafra Air Base, located on the Arabian Peninsula in the United Arab Emirates, is key to ensuring stability in the Middle East by delivering decisive airpower, defending the region, and developing relationships with coalition partners. The security of its assets and personnel is critical to the successful execution of these missions. This responsibility lies with the 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron and its unique teams of experienced defenders.
The 380th ESFS’ Operations Section provides security to ADAB 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year through the employment of five key mission sets: Base Defense Security, the Military Working Dog Section, Vehicle Search Area, Training and Counter Small Unmanned Aerial Systems.
BASE DEFENSE SECURITY:
One of the most critical functions of 380th ESFS Operations Section is base defense; the security of the installation ensures ADAB members can execute their taskings safely and effectively.
“Base Defense Security allows every section, unit, and squadron in the Wing to do their respective jobs,” said Master Sgt. Willie Moses, 380th ESFS flight chief. “Without base defense, people who do not have a need to know about our mission would be able to infiltrate the installation at will. The installation’s assets and infrastructure could be assessed by those intending to damage and destroy essential material, causing a detriment to the overall mission.”
Security Forces executes the function of base security in a myriad of ways.
“We secure assets, personnel and flights; are the first responders to anything from a small robbery to a death, domestic and speed enforcement; work with other first responders like the fire department for fire and cordon operations, and medical if we are the first ones to get on scene,” said Capt. Brigitte Palacios, 380th ESFS Operations Section officer. “In addition, the Base Defense Operation Center takes calls 24/7, monitors our alarms and cameras, dispatch ESFS response and also detects and defeats drones.”
Each mission and every Airman matters. Whichever role ESFS Base Defense members fill, it is a component piece to the overall big picture of installation security.
“From entry controllers at the gates checking IDs, to patrols providing security of vital assets and infrastructure, to police ensuring public and traffic safety, we have a duty to protect the installation at all costs and ensure our missions continue to provide unhindered support to the men and women operating in the region,” said Moses.
MILITARY WORKING DOG SECTION:
The Military Working Dog Section is a key component to Security Forces, and provides a number of functions toward the overall goal of operational security. One of their primary missions is aiding in the detection of hidden substances.
“Our dogs protect military bases across the entire Department of Defense (DoD) by preventing narcotics and explosive material from entering facilities and other important areas,” said Tech. Sgt. Bruce Weir, 380th ESFS kennel master. “They are important due to their keen sense of smell. We do not have any assets or equipment capable of providing the accuracy of a military working dog when it comes to substance detection.”
The dogs are also trained to subdue suspects, and their presence, therefore, serves as a deterrence to individuals with intent to inflict harm onto U.S. military assets and personnel.
“When apprehending a subject, military working dogs are trained to bite until control has been established and/or compliance has been gained by Security Forces. This technique serves an additional tool for subject apprehension, especially when subjects are non-compliant,” said Palacios. “We also do random anti-terrorism measures in support of deterrence operations. Since many people are intimidated by dogs, it is likely that they will be on their best behavior when in the presence of military working dogs. Since these dogs are used as weapons, not pets, the psychological deterrence usually comes from people fearing being bitten by the dog.”
Furthermore, dogs and handlers trained stateside bring their knowledge into theater where they can teach allies and support partner agencies.
“We have training proficiency with the Navy here in the UAE, and also we work with Host Nation and coalition forces to train their trainers, and in turn we learn their tactics as well,” said Palacios. “Another cool thing is they also provide their services to the Secret Service, the Department of State, the Embassy and other DoD agencies in the area of responsibility.”
VEHICLE SEARCH AREA:
Security Forces Airmen who work the Vehicle Search Area vet traffic and personnel entering U.S. controlled areas at ADAB. They are responsible for screening and searching all construction and over-sized vehicles and other country nationals, as well as ensuring there are no contraband or security concerns that enter or leave the installation.
“My section is important because it is the first line of defense from outside personnel,” said Tech. Sgt. Qualisha Trotter, 380th ESFS non-commissioned officer in charge (NCIOC) of Vehicle Search Area. “The Airmen search personal property and vehicles that are driven from off base by other country nationals. They run the screening equipment that may show unauthorized items on a person as well as inside of vehicles. They also issue out Defense Biometric Identification System ID cards to workers on base using a badge exchange system.”
In a given month, the Vehicle Search Area screens thousands of visitors and vehicles utilizing a number of ESFS assets.
“We do 100% hands-on ID checks and on average screen 14,000 other country nationals and 5,000 vehicles per month - numerous contraband items have been seized throughout the year,” said Palacios. “We utilize our military working dogs to conduct searches and random anti-terrorism measures, and we have specialized equipment to help with the searches.”
Being an effective warrior and defender requires continuous training to ensure peak performance. ADAB security forces members are dedicated to honing tactical skills for their members and partners.
“Our program consists of follow-on training for more than 300 deployed and permanent party Security Forces members on a rotational basis,” said Palacios. “That includes ensuring our capabilities are up to par to build on competency, increase lethality and stay proficient.”
“The Training Section conducts proficiency fire training to drive weapons accuracy and increase defender lethality; manages the Other Country National Escort Training program; oversees the Selective Arming Program, which trains squadrons to provide their own armed protection during higher Force Protection Conditions or wartime operations; and administers joint Security, Law and Order, and Base Defense Training with our Emirati Security Battalion counterparts,” said Tech. Sgt. Preston Meier, 380th ESFS Training non-commissioned officer.
COUNTER SMALL UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS:
Advances in global technology create dynamic challenges when it comes to base defense, and Security Forces members are charged with being flexible, innovative and adaptable in order to meet these threats. Drones have become so widely produced and inexpensively made that they are available to the everyday consumer.
“Over the last 20 years of rapidly increasing technology, small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) have become much more prevalent, affordable and easier to operate,” said Master Sgt. Jesse Taylor, 380th ESFS NCOIC of counter-sUAS (c-sUAS). “The DoD has recognized the potential threat. A small, easy obtainable, off the shelf sUAS could be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance attacks, seriously crippling the mission.”
According to Palacios, ADAB is the first U.S. installation to launch the most comprehensive c-sUAS program in theater. In May of 2017, Central Command came up with a “joint urgent operational need” intended to procure, deploy and install counter small unmanned aerial systems. They named this system Medusa after the many-headed mythological figure since it uses several systems to detect, identify, track and defeat small drones.
“The c-sUAS mission is pretty unique because it’s still pretty new to the Air Force overall,” said Palacios. “Medusa is a system of advanced technologies used to defeat small drones. The goal is to design a model system that can be rapidly deployable to areas with a significant drone threat to military personnel or resources. ADAB is the test base for this capacity, and will continue to develop the blueprint for c-sUAS operations in the future.”
As the face of warfare continuously changes, 380th ESFS members with the c-sUAS program continue to keep their eyes on the horizon.
“The c-sUAS operation is rapidly becoming a standard for not just the present time, but for future years to come,” said Taylor. “As new technology, equipment, and ideas emerge, we must keep one step ahead of the enemy to protect our most valued assets: the lives of our service members.”
Collectively, the five sections of 380th ESFS Operations Section – Base Defense Security, Military Working Dogs, Vehicle Search Area, Training and Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems, establish multiple layers of security which enable ADAB Airmen and their allies to safely and effectively execute their missions.
“Our defenders provide a credible, capable, and dynamic defense posture, allowing war-winning airpower while building sustainable capacity, increased capability, and interoperability with our coalition and host nation counterparts,” said Meier.