Security in security forces
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- All secure. The simplicity of that statement doesn't even compare to the multitude of tasks, requirements and manpower needed to ensure that in any event, Osan Air Base and its assets are protected.
The 51st Security Forces Squadron, which is broken down into several different units, works together to accomplish their mission of protecting and defending the base and its occupants. More often than not, an individual will envision a dedicated Airman bearing firearms and wearing a protective vest posting or patrolling to ensure safety - but there are more elements to security than that.
Behind the scenes and often tucked away in the quiet recesses of the base, few are charged with maintaining the physical and electronic security that help defend and deter.
The electronic security side monitors sensor system malfunctions and upgrades, and are in charge of alarms and more than 180 cameras, ensuring each system is 100 percent intruder detection capable.
The physical security side ensures the installation's perimeter, facilities, and restricted areas are in compliance with Department of Defense and Air Force requirements by inspections and coordinating discrepancies with base agencies for prompt corrective action.
"We conduct installation defense," said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Mccrory, 51st SFS NCO in charge of physical security. "Especially here, being a forward-located base, the threat is real - a little bit more real than you may encounter stateside. You have to maintain the physical security requirements to deter these threats and protect our vital assets. Our mission here is very important. Protect the personnel, protect our resources, protect the base. It's a challenge, but it's an awesome job."
From managing the fence lines, to making sure that the exterior of protected facilities have appropriate lighting, each project must adhere to specifications according to guidelines, handbooks and Air Force instructions. Regular upkeep and maintenance is required for construction and physical security requirements.
Electronic security doesn't replace, but mitigates the requirements for how many people have to guard certain assets and facilities. By providing constant surveillance, sensors and alarms, another essential level of protection is provided to the base. For those specializing in this section, the ongoing challenge links them to past and future projects.
"A lot of the projects and plans we get to put our name on, don't actually happen during the course of time that we're here," Tech. Sgt. Jason Sherman, NCOIC electronic security systems. "We get to work hand-in-hand with our predecessors almost. Most of our office is putting to rest initiatives that happened three to five years ago, and are starting new projects that will be here for many Airman and NCOs to come that we helped initiate."
Electronic security varies from the alarm sensors placed on the flight line, intrusion detection systems and duress buttons, to the cameras placed on fences, referred to as alarm platforms. Each device has to be maintained. To get the job done, Airmen working these projects must overcome obstacles here such as terrain, space availability, weather fluctuations and even operator errors. No matter the challenge, they find the best way to meet each standard they are given and provide optimal security.
"It's neat - what we do, what we map out and sign off on," Sherman continued. "We will put alarms on something, and specify how it should be guarded and Airmen will be committed to executing that plan we developed. We are active participants, sitting at tables with colonels, giving our expertise on how to keep the base safe, and letting them know what the specific requirements are. That's pretty neat."
Electronic security and physical security work together to accomplish their mission, and both sections are pivotal to safeguarding the $54 billion of assets on Osan.
"It's different from normal operations, and you have to learn the regulations frontward and backward." Mccrory said. "But we can get see the nitty gritty and the behind the scenes, conduct assessments and solve problems if there are any. We are making this a better and safer base."