by Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The 21st Security Forces Squadron has undergone a major shift in the way it polices, making it the first in Air Force Space Command to adopt new Air Force policing mandates.
Maj. Joseph Musacchia, 21st SFS commander, calls the change revolutionary because it gives security forces more flexibility in how they police, provides an increased presence of security forces on the installation and offers a higher quality of life for security forces personnel by moving them from 12-hour to eight-hour shifts – something unheard of in the security forces world.
“We have received support from wing leadership to truly drive this squadron in a new direction toward 21st century defense of the installation,” said Major Musacchia, who took command of the squadron in April. “The key is that we are breaking paradigms and introducing things to this organization that they have never seen before.”
The new policing plan, called the integrated defense plan, describes a force that polices based on its capabilities. It means that after SFS has assessed the day-to-day risks on and around the base, it will make its duty assignments based on the perceived risks. The squadron uses data and intelligence to design its patrol, rather than the old rigid posting mandates of the past that kept a patrolman tethered to an asset for the duration of his shift, Major Musacchia said.
Under the new defense plan, information is shared by a variety of agencies, including the Office of Special Investigations and Colorado Springs Police Department. Through weekly meetings with people from various squadrons and departments, security forces can layout the coming events, threats, traffic and safety enforcement issues and assess the risks to develop a week-to-week plan. They call this the integrated risk management process. Policing then is more precise, Major Musacchia said.
“Each patrolman is going to be performing duties on the installation in a certain sector, at a certain time based on intelligence,” Major Musacchia said. “We are doing it the modern way – patrolling with a purpose.”
At the same time, employees and residents of the base can expect to see security forces on foot, bicycle and ATV patrols, making policing more personal. Now, security forces patrolmen are more likely to stop and meet the neighbors and talk about what is happening in the neighborhood.
“We don’t want people thinking we are just trying to catch them doing something bad,” said Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Babcock, a 21st SFS flight chief.
The new Air Force Instruction, calling for security forces to develop an integrated defense plan, was released in October. The 21st SFS put Senior Master Sgt. Shaun Guilfoil, 21st SFS superintendent, plans and programs, in charge of the new plan. The groundwork for the new Air Force Instruction began in 2003, Sergeant Guilfoil said. It was the first time security forces saw some relief of the rigid regulations on how patrolmen spent their shifts. However, there was no existing integrated defense plan for Airmen to model, until now. AFSPC is using the 21st SFS integrated defense plan, which includes five geographically separated units and 15 locations, as the benchmark plan for other wings.
“This rewrite of AFI 31-101, which drove the (integrated defense plan) was the biggest shift in the way security forces does business in probably 40 years,” Sergeant Guilfoil said. “I think it’s a great thing and it’s a long time coming.”
Since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, security forces has been one of the most deployed squadrons, with at least 30 percent of the force deployed at one time. But, the needs at the home base never changed, said Senior Master Sgt. Eric Hoderland, 21st SFS superintendent.
“The workload has quadrupled but there has been no increase in manpower,” he said. “So, with capabilities-based policing, I will man posts based on a comprehensive risk assessment. We have to use our force more effectively and efficiently.”
Changing the way the squadron polices opened up an opportunity to change the long-held 12-hour shifts, Sergeant Hoderland said. In the security forces world, squadrons typically work 12-hour shifts, usually three days on, two days off, two days on, three days off. The 12-hour duty day does not include the usual one-hour prep time prior to a shift or the one-hour after a shift for cleaning and returning weapons and paperwork, which turns a 12-hour shift into a 14-hour day.
“One of the primary jobs as a leader in this organization is to take care of your people,” Sergeant Hoderland said. “One way you take care of your people is by affording them a healthy work schedule which is paramount for a number of reasons – mental sharpness, physical fitness, education, and quality of life.”
The new shifts are returning four hours a day to an Airman, Sergeant Hoderland said. For the first time, the SFS work schedule has allowed the squadron to have unit physical fitness training.
“We needed to put them in a work schedule that enables the same opportunities other Airmen receive in different career fields throughout the Air Force,” Sergeant Hoderland said.
What’s impressive about the new plan is that the installation actually has more coverage than before, Sergeant Hoderland said. The 21st SFS’s integrated defense plan and new eight-hour shifts have come together through a partnership with the individual mobilization augmentee)and the Air Reserve Component force protection volunteers, he said. It’s an example of how the integration posts are manned, Sergeant Hoderland said.
“We simply could not perform the mission without the sustained superior performance of our IMAs and ARCv forces,” he said. “We are still doing every mission that I did when I came on active duty. And, I think we are doing it better.”