Swamp Fox defenders guard the 380th AEW
By Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson, 169th FW/PA
/ Published July 09, 2013
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- An elite team of Swamp Fox security forces personnel started a six-month deployment to the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, this past February.
This deployment was in the unit's scheduled Air Expeditionary Force cycle, so the deployers were able to spend the last year preparing mentally and physically for the challenges that lay ahead.
The training and preparations started February 2012, with an exercise called Operation Rita.
"Most of the personnel involved in Operation Rita are on the deployment," stated Lt. Col. Paul Laymon, 169th Security Forces commander. "It was sort of the kick off to getting ready."
Operation Rita was an exercise conducted on base where security force members responded to an insurgent group posing a threat to local aircraft. Responders were transported by S.C. Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to a destination near the alleged group activity. They began with a reconnaissance mission through the woods to neutralize the threat.
The end result of the exercise was strengthening their skills in land navigation, intelligence gathering, first aid and buddy care, calling in for medical evacuation and close air support, as well as loading and off-loading from an active helicopter.
Just a few weeks before the team left for this deployment, they went to Creech Air Force Base,Nevada. There they attended a two-week, advanced weapons training and tactics course called Silver Flag Alpha. It encompassed rigorous training required for security forces personnel before deploying.
"For our current location, the mount training we received at Creech and the chance to bond before deploying was most beneficial," said Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Lloyd, element leader for the Swamp Fox team that is now assigned to the 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. "Mount training could also be referred to as urban warfare. We are taught how to fight in an urban setting, instead of just in a desert or forest environment."
That is extremely important training since the deployed mission is base security. The skills would be crucial for the security forces team in the event an active shooter occurred on base and in any situation where knowing how to move through buildings and clear rooms could save lives.
Tech. Sgt. David Beddingfield, one of the deploying personnel, said all the training received prior to arriving in-country was helpful to him.
"The force protection training, going over everything from squad tactics and rollover (vehicle) training for air base defense, was all invaluable training," said Beddingfield. "At McEntire, our focus is base security and law enforcement. At Creech, the training was geared toward protecting a base from a more militaristic-type enemy. There was a lot covered in the two-week time frame, with not a lot of downtime."
Lloyd and Beddingfield agree that while the training was rigorous, the weather at Creech proved to be the most difficult part of the training. The time of year was the coldest climate for that area of Nevada. This didn't help prepare the team for the hot desert climate of their deployed location.
Their mission at the 380th ESFS is law enforcement, flight line and base security. This is similar to their duties at McEntire.
Lloyd commented that the deployed Swamp Foxes are looking forward to opportunities to save money, meet fitness goals and enjoy some local cultural experiences. Since they are deployed to a non-combat zone, they are allowed to participate in off-base tours.
"There are some Morale, Welfare and Recreation events that will happen on base, but also live concerts and a mall with indoor shopping, snowboarding and skiing," he stated.
"Everyone has their own agenda for deployment goals, but overall the goal is to just get through it, get back home and know you did a good job," Beddingfield concluded.