451st ESFS, NATO partners defend heart of Kandahar Airfield
By Senior Airman Melissa B. White, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 07, 2011
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Kandahar Airfield's most valuable asset: people. Some of these valued people help protect another vital asset on this Afghanistan base: the $40 billion worth of aircraft and equipment on the flightline, the heart of the airfield.
With more than 5,000 aircraft movements on a weekly basis to support operations throughout Afghanistan, the flightline security Airmen and their NATO partners have their work cut out for them by making sure those operations continue seamlessly without being threatened.
"It's a big responsibility," said Staff Sgt. Steven Robinson, 451st Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron flightline security controller. "We don't take our job lightly and we never get complacent."
The flightline security members are responsible for dispatching patrols to flightline incidents and providing security for everything from medical evacuations to distinguished visitors or dignified remains transfers. They also man entry control points for the flightline by ensuring only authorized personnel with proper identification enter and exit the controlled area.
"It's always busy here because there's always something out of the ordinary that comes up ... I keep in contact with our patrols to make sure we can respond quickly," said Sergeant Robinson, who hails from Atlanta. "Without us protecting the flightline assets, the mission won't get done because we have people flying in and out of here every day."
With being in a deployed environment, these Airmen also respond to indirect fire attacks on the flightline, clearing and cordoning areas when necessary. The flightline security crew is also constantly providing mobile patrol units around the flightline, ensuring they're ready to respond at a moment's notice anywhere in the airfield.
"Mobile patrols are my favorite part," said Airman 1st Class Chris Spore, 451st ESFS flightline security patrolman, as he manned one of the entry control points. "I get to see a lot of different things when we're riding around, but here I just see the same people coming in and out every day. This flightline is the main line into the base, so we're a very important resource."
The 451st ESFS makes up a portion of the 75-member Commander of KAF Flightline Security team, which they support jointly with their NATO counterparts from Canada, Belgium and Australia.
"I like working with all the people," said Sergeant Robinson, who said this was his first time deploying with foreign forces. "I like getting to learn their ways and learning about their cultures. They do things a little differently and they handle things very directly."
His Australian counterpart had similar things to say about working with the American Airmen.
"Things are good here and there are a lot of great opportunities to work with the guys," said Royal Australian Air Force Sgt. Mark Rankin, COMKAF Flightline Security flight chief. "There's not a massive learning curve because there's not a lot of difference in how we do things. It's great working with them."
No matter the country, language, or which patterned uniform they wear, these Airmen and their NATO partners come together for a common mission: protecting and defending the heart of KAF, the flightline.