71st FTW deployed members shine

  • Published
  • By SrA Amanda Mills
  • Public Affairs
Currently, there are 10 people deployed globally from Vance Air Force Base.
TSgt Jesus Rodriguez, 33rd Flying Training Squadron, and A1C Dustin Willis, 71st Security Forces Squadron, are two of Team Vance's deployed members.
Sergeant Rodriguez is part of a Planification Assistant Training Team, playing a role in dismantling drug trafficking networks at an undisclosed location. As a member of a Joint Task Force, he provides assistance to the host nation to fight and win that war, and lately in keeping an eye on the narcoterrorism.
"Our team's eyes are going deep inside the remote areas to help train and provide logistic support to the local armed forces," Sergeant Rodriguez said.
"This deployment has been the most interesting one in my 20-year career due to the degree of flexibility required and the satisfaction that comes from building a team from the ground up," he said. "It interesting to notice how important it is to emphasize to our generation that drug use is a losing situation for the user and society. Drug users don't realize that by using drugs they are contributing to the killing and suffering of thousands and thousands of innocent villagers and devastating the dreams and peace of millions of people. If they were to see what is being done out there in the woods we would not have a drug problem."
Airman Willis is part of a five-person security forces team deployed to Southwest Asia from Vance AFB. The team is part of the 886th Expeditionary Security Forces Group, formerly the 886th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. The change marks the first time operational control of a support function has been transferred from the Army to the Air Force.
In their new duties, the group will perform rear-area security missions to include customs inspections, entry control, physical security, accident investigation and convoy operations throughout Southwest Asia.
"This unique, joint operation began with an agreement between the U.S. Army and Air Force Chiefs of Staff with the understanding that the Air Force would only provide customs inspectors for the U.S. Central Command [Area of Responsibility], to include some limited law enforcement support," said Lt Col Rodney Simmons, 886th ESFG commander. "When I sat down with Brig Gen Michael Diamond, 377th Theater Support commander, and told him that we're trained on convoys, entry control, Tactical Control Points and personnel security, he was just elated. He had no idea of the skills we brought to the fight. I basically told the General the capabilities and training of U.S. Army Military Police and SF are so similar that the transition would be seamless."
The 886th ESFG is literally a cross-section of the Air Force Security Forces, with 600 Air Force SF members coming from 35 bases including active duty, Guard and Reserve. Security forces deploy small units from many bases, assembling a squadron together once it reaches the AOR. Thus, experts from every security forces mission are available to place as needed.
(The 386th Expeditionary Air Wing Public Affairs contributed to this article.)