Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Day as a Defender

By Airman Aaron Edwards  | Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs

PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. — U.S. Air Force Col. David Wilson, 21st Mission Support Group commander, travelled to the 21st Security Forces Squadron for a one day “deployment” as a temporary Defender at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, July 22, 2021.

By going into the field and putting himself in the shoes of the people he leads, Wilson experienced what it is truly like to serve a day as a Defender.

The 21st SFS falls under the responsibility of the 21st MSG and is responsible for the overall security of the people and property on Peterson SFB and Cheyenne Mountain Space Station, Colorado. The squadron has many facilities on Peterson, including the visitor control center, main SF facility and armory, military working dog facility, plans/programs, reports and analysis, investigations and anti-terrorism, two logistics and mobility buildings, and a base defense operations center.

Wilson’s deployment to the 21st SFS began with gearing up and acquiring all of the necessary equipment for his day as a Defender. He put on his body armor and checked out his M-18 pistol prior to leaving the squadron headquarters. On-duty Defenders wear body armor to protect themselves from fast, low-surface-area attacks, such as gun fire or knifes.

Before and after checking a weapon out of the armory, Defenders ensure the weapon is safe and free of ammunition. They do this by clearing the weapon in a device called a bullet trap and putting the weapon on safe.

No matter what the weather is, rain, shine, hot or cold, Defenders are posted at the West [Main] Gate 24/7 to protect the base and it’s occupancy from any outside threats attempting to enter the installation. Once he was properly equipped to perform his duties, Wilson went to work as an entry controller at the gate. Defenders on gate duty use handheld identification scanners to verify base access authority for military members, dependents, base workers and DoD civilians.

During his training Wilson learned to properly use a radar gun to track the speed of on-base traffic. The base has a 30 mile-per-hour speed limit on most streets and a 15 mph limit on residential streets. Speeding on base can result in tickets and loss of on-base driving privileges.

Wilson joined Airmen from the 21st SFS in a gate runner exercise on the base. Defenders regularly perform exercises to ensure their team is sharp and responsive. Wilson and the Defenders quickly responded to two suspects who drove straight through the gate, gaining unauthorized entry to the installation. Defenders used their training and strong communication skills to quickly track down and apprehend the suspects.

“The reality is I’m not gonna stand a post tomorrow, but it helps me,” said Wilson. “There’s not a day that goes by that we’re [21st MSG leadership] not talking to somebody about something I just learned. I get to say this is what my folks are going through, this is how they operate. While it is enjoyable it’s not just for fun, it helps me advocate better for you.”

Leadership working side-by-side with the people they lead can help them understand exactly what their people are going through and help them gain useful perspective on how policies and decisions affect the individuals and organizations they lead.

Wilson will be visiting the 21st Force Support Squadron, 21st Contracting Squadrons, 21st Communications Squadron, 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron and the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron.

Day as a Defender
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