By Staff Sgt. Adrian Cavazos
821st Air Base Group
THULE AIR BASE, Greenland — Over the past several years, installation security has evolved from air base defense, to integrated base defense, to integrated defense. The Arctic Defenders of the 821st Security Forces Squadron at Thule Air Base have embedded integrated defense within our actions and everyday thinking. As an installation, we grasp the concepts and functions of integrated defense and have taken continuous stringent practices to implement perfected procedures in the Arctic region. Through developed training methods, technology and base operations, we have applied advanced measures to deter, detect and defeat any potential threat by acting rather than reacting and thereby making the installation a harder target for potential terrorist threats.
The goal and standard of integrated defense training is to increase readiness and provide opportunities to better prepare us for worst-case scenarios. The 821st SFS has created realistic training scenarios that apply to our local threat and our facilities to better handle any situation we may be faced with and must overcome.
More specifically, we have initiated the use of battle drills. Battle drills are basically minimal orders from leaders applied to a small unit repetitively to ensure sequential actions become a trained response. Battle drills, most commonly utilized prior to combat operations in a deployed environment, provide standardized operating procedures and allow Airmen to train to “what if” scenarios. Additionally, Airmen train by the use of instinct and constant rehearsal which maximizes proficiency and minimizes exertion of force. Staff Sgt. Joseph Cull, 821st SFS flight sergeant, took the lead and volunteered to design the battle drills due to his extensive knowledge in security.
“Battle drills are a way to have a plan in advance for different security situations so everyone knows their role and the role of the defender next to them,” Cull said. Battle drills have allowed the Airmen to tailor training to a hands-on and mission specific approach to ready Airmen and heighten security measures.
The battle drill concept was initiated using the crawl-walk-run system. The concept started at a flight sergeants meeting where potential scenarios were discussed and the concept of drills quickly took off. The scenarios included active shooter, duress, alarm response and unauthorized individual drills. The battle drills exercise any situation the responding patrols may encounter such as a downed defender, barricaded subject or downed communications. In the past, these types of responses were typically incorporated into quarterly Condor Crest, short sprint and flight level exercises. They have now become a daily part of operations. Whether it is a terrorist attack, an insider threat, or a large scale disaster, we are all susceptible. This battle drill approach provides junior Airmen an opportunity to learn invaluable leadership and communications skills in an environment that also hones their tactics, techniques and procedures.
Never content with current progress, Cull and the other flight sergeants continue to expand their efforts by integrating new scenarios into each facet of our integrated defense.
“The best thing about battle drills is that they can continue to be improved,” Cull said. His enthusiasm is infectious and almost every day, he is approached by a fellow defender offering to assist with new ideas on how to respond to different incidents. He continues to improve established drills, to apply the validated upgrades, and to provide valuable training so all personnel remain technically proficient and stay on a constant paralleled regiment. These battle drills encourage constant innovation which enhances the entire team as we maintain an ever-present security footprint.
“It Takes the BEST…to Defend the REST” is the 821st SFS motto. It’s an honor defenders there truly believe and carry with them every day. Battle drills allow the Airmen to be the best and defend Thule Air Base as well as its host nation. Never being satisfied and continuing to find a better way of training, use of technology and implementing future base operations is crucial to defending the base. The austere environment and conditions at Thule Air Base require its Airmen to be ready both as an individual and as a team. Challenges like these that make readiness even more important. Battle drills keep the 821st SFS Airmen motivated, focused, trained and prepared for anything.