Vance security forces: Elite team handles elevated situations

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Amanda Savannah
  • Public Affairs
If you see security officers with bulletproof shields, wearing bulletproof vests and helmets, lining up outside a door before breaking it down, you're not always seeing civilian forces in action.
Look closely -- the team may be wearing battle dress uniforms underneath that protective gear.
"We're the equivalent to a civilian (Special Weapons and Tactics) team," said Tech. Sgt. Robert Innis, 71st Security Forces Squadron operations superintendent and Emergency Services Team member. "We handle any elevated situation, such as hostage situations, a normal security forces flight isn't trained to handle."
An EST is vital to security forces operations because of their capabilities, said Maj. Robert Rossi, 71st SFS commander.
"They provide the squadron tremendous capabilities because they're trained in hostage rescue and close-quarter battle situations," the major said. "They're also trained in dynamic entry and weapons tactics. This gives the commander these capabilities if such an event were to happen."
The team is also important because it provides a visible deterrent, Sergeant Innis said.
"As we're seen in our gear in the community and at high-profile events like the Presidential visit, we're more likely to prevent criminal activity," the Kiefer, Okla., native said.
Emergency Service Team members are all volunteer 71st SFS members who train every other Wednesday on their off-duty time. Members must make an 80 or better on their physical fitness test, have an expert firing score, and for new Airmen, must be certified in their primary positions and have completed their Career Development Courses.
"The team is all-volunteer because we want to know it's truly what the members want," Sergeant Innis said. "We don't solicit members because if they are volunteers, we know they'll put everything they have into the team."
The team is currently comprised of 11 members.
"I like training on tactical entries (as a team member)," said Sergeant Rosenzweig. "Where else can I take down a door with a 50-pound ram and detain the people inside? I also like being able to shoot all types of weapons."
When a volunteer is qualified for the team, they simply begin training with the team every other week. An Airman will receive special weapons training based on his or her qualifications.
"I like that we don't shoot standard ready fire," Sergeant Innis said. "We fire all the time."
Tactical training also includes dynamic entry, tactical movement and room-clearing procedures.
"Soon, we'll also receive rappelling certification," said Sergeant Rosenzweig, a Broadalbin, N.Y., native.
Major Rossi said he is highly confident in the EST's abilities.
"Members of this team are the best skilled, best trained and most motivated Airmen," he said. "They're combining experienced leadership with the skills of young Airmen and forming a dynamic team."
(Editor's note: This is the third in a four-part series about security forces operations at Vance Air Force Base.)