TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Imagine its Wednesday evening and you are a security forces Airman assigned to perform entry control duties at the main gate at Travis AFB.
Suddenly, a vehicle approaches the gate on fire. You and your fellow defenders quickly find cover and report the incident. Soon the emergency control center informs you that backup is on the way, along with firefighters and the explosive ordnance disposal team.
This was the reality for Airmen assigned to the 60th Security Forces Squadron who were performing entry control duties at the main gate of Travis AFB March 21, 2018. Their swift response helped avert a potential catastrophe, as the vehicle never made it past the gate.
Security forces Airmen are responsible for protecting people and resources at Air Force installations in the United States and around the world.
“You never know what’s going to happen, so you always have to be alert,” said Airman 1st Class Hannah Hoskins, 60th SFS installation entry controller. “We have to be on our toes at all times.”
Another incident occurred in December 2017, just five days before Christmas.
“An individual sped through one of our gates at speeds nearing 100 mph,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Schultz, a 60th SFS flight chief.
“We quickly dispatched patrols and apprehended the driver and four others,” he said.
The patrols found alcoholic beverages, marijuana and a shotgun in the suspect’s vehicle.
Hoskins said, security forces Airmen have a great deal of responsibility.
“We ensure our installation is safe at all times,” she said. “One way we do that is by denying base access to anyone who doesn’t meet entry requirements. We also ensure traffic laws are enforced. With the coronavirus pandemic, we have implemented a number of measures to ensure the safety of our defenders and the public.”
The 60th SFS requires Airmen performing entry security to wear masks and gloves to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, protecting both defenders and visitors to the installation. Those defenders, who complete an average of 6,000 ID checks a day, use an electronic device to scan ID cards known as the Defense Biometric Identification System, said Schultz.
“Right now, we don’t physically handle ID cards,” said Airman 1st Class Jason Nguyen, 60 SFS installation entry controller. “Individuals hold their ID cards while we scan them with DBIDS.”
The system is one way security forces verifies base access for each person requesting entry, including civilians and contractors, Nguyen said.
Hoskins recalled an incident when an individual refused to turn his car around, after discovering the driver did not have the valid identification needed to access the base.
“He was angry and insisted he was going to drive through the gate,” Hoskins said. “I called for backup, and I had help there immediately. Eventually, he calmed down, and we briefed him about his license, as well as base entry procedures. Shortly after that, he drove away from the gate.”
The defenders at Travis AFB provide security for thousands of people and resources valued at approximately $11 billion. The security they provide helps enable successfully operations every day. Since Feb. 1, 2020, Team Travis, which is home to the largest mobility wing in the Air Force, has supported more than 500 missions.
Schultz stressed, that despite the pandemic, 60th SFS Airmen will continue to provide a safe and secure environment for Team Travis.
“Our Airmen at the gates are our first line of defense for the installation,” Schultz said. “They keep a watchful eye for anything that may happen and that will not change. Often, they are the only experience people have with our base or the Air Force. They are highly trained and focused on ensuring the safety and security of our installation.”
“Our No.1 priority is securing our mission and protecting our people,” Hoskins added. “We have several assets at our base, and many Airmen and families call Travis home. We are family, and you never want anything to threaten your family. We are here to protect one another.”
Editor’s Note: This is the first of a three-part series on security forces at Travis AFB.