Puerto Rican guardsmen integrate with Eielson defenders

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

RED FLAG-Alaska brings units from around the globe for joint, coalition and multilateral training from simulated forward operating bases, but one unit from the Puerto Rico Air National Guard joined the defenders on Eielson for real-world integration.

Members from the 156th Security Forces Squadron out of Muñiz Air National Guard Base, Puerto Rico, deployed to Eielson where they supported 354th SFS operations during RF-A 18-3. 

“Every RF-A, we request support due to the influx of personnel, which increases our workload for entry control and other security positions,” said Capt. Luke Richardson, 354th SFS Operations Officer. “Having the other [security forces] members allows us to fill those positions and increase patrols, which helps us a lot.”

For members of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard, these positions provide new experiences for their defenders that may not be available at their home station.

“Our home station only has four positions for us to work in, but here because the base is bigger there are more places for us to work, such as the vehicle search pit, the patrols or with military working dogs,” said Tech. Sgt. Allen Rivera, a member of the 156th SFS. “We brought a lot of our young Airmen with us and this gives them an opportunity to gain experience.”

This integration of two SFS squadrons provides both units with a chance to exchange tactics and procedures while also preparing them for what they may face in deployed locations.

“Each base has different enforcement policies, for example, on Eielson we follow Alaska state laws which we focus and train on,” said Richardson. “For them, they get a lot of exposure to how different rules and laws can be at various locations.”

Richardson also mentioned that when security forces members deploy they’ll have to learn the rules and procedures for their deployed location, which means temporary deployments to other bases allow defenders to gain experience so they can easily adapt. 

“Most expeditionary security forces units are made up of different teams from all sorts of bases,” Richardson said. “So each of them comes to the deployed location with different experiences and different backgrounds, which makes communication and the ability to work together as a team very important.”

Throughout RF-A 18-3, the integration of the two SFS units provided improved security for the installation while doubling as an opportunity for defenders to gain experiences, learn new things and better prepare for what they may face during a deployment.