By Scott Prater
Security forces Airmen deploy a lot. It’s part of the job.
Many times, that means pulling the duty no one else wants, like providing security at uneventful places, or managing traffic prior to and after events.
But sometimes, they pull duty that one can only envision in Air Force recruiting videos.
Tech. Sgt. Shaun Bush has deployed five times during his 11 years as a security forces Airman.
That experience is one reason Air Force leadership tabbed him to be a team leader during his most recent deployment to Southwest Asia for more than 200 days.
In all, 10 Airmen assigned to the 50th Security Forces Squadron deployed along with him between June and December 2013. Together, they composed what’s known as a Fly-Away Security Team.
Air Force FAST teams play a crucial role in protecting aircrews and airplanes in hostile areas. They fly on specific missions to various deployed locations to ensure the safety and security of aircraft and crewmembers.
“We trained specifically on how to perform the FAST mission, how to handle ourselves, how to secure others, the flight, the airplane the air crew and passengers,” Bush said. “It’s a vitally important job because a pilot is not trained in hand-to-hand combat, nor is he/she trained to handle things that we are trained to handle. A loadmaster is there to manage the plane’s cargo, not worry about security. That task lies with us. We’re there to make sure the crewmembers can focus on their jobs.”
A FAST assignment requires specific skills. Security forces Airmen must complete Evasion Conduct After Capture and FAST training prior to deploying.
Bush said this particular team, known as the 451st Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron FAST, provided flight deck and perimeter security for C-130 aircraft and crews as they conducted air operations. The team flew more than 700 missions, 2,400 sorties and transported more than 23,500 people including 55 detainees. Their missions carried 11,000 tons of cargo to 24 different landing zones in seven countries.
“It was exciting for sure,” Bush said. “We were operating at a time when green-on-blue attack scenarios were dominating news headlines. Many times, we landed on dirt runways, in locations where our team made up the full extent of security on the ground.”
The team also worked an extremely high operations tempo as the U.S. military conducted draw-down operations in the region.
Upon returning to Schriever Air Force Base, every member of the team received a medal and Bush, now a 50th Space Wing Inspector General inspector, said their deployed commander was extremely appreciative of the team’s service.
“There were a lot of long days,” Bush said. “But, given the opportunity, I would do it again in a heartbeat. We moved a lot of people; our people out and host country soldiers in. We even transported prisoners, including five of the top ten insurgents in the region.”
Bush’s team was the second of three FAST teams to deploy from the 50 SFS in the past three years.
“I’m especially thankful to see members of the 50 SFS get the opportunity to perform this sort of deployed mission,” said Chief Master Sgt. James Herkel, 50 SFS security forces manager. “The traditional security forces mission, especially at Schriever AFB, while critical to our national security and global mission, is pretty one-dimensional. The FAST mission gives our Airmen the chance to do something beyond the mainstream that make them develop into better Defenders. Unfortunately, we don’t control how these taskings get assigned to units, but we stand ready to support them.”