Currently, the security forces Airmen are responsible for nine different stations and are training their second district, said Master Sgt. Onre Talbert, the 732nd ESFS Det. 2 flight leader.
To prepare the Iraqi police, the security forces Airmen provide training to local Iraqi police stations on basic police activities including law enforcement, individual searches, checkpoints, force protection set-up and clearing buildings. One station can have 150 to 350 policeman.
“There is no real set outline on what we train,” said Sergeant Talbert, who is deployed from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is a native of Baton Rouge, La. “You get a feel for how the station is, talk to the station commander and train. It’s an ongoing thing — we’re always training, just like at home.
“You get to see the difference,” he continued. “Being here from day one, you see what skill set they are and their knowledge. Three to four months down the line you get to see their progress and you get to see the impact you’ve made here.”
While things are currently running smoothly, the team has hit a few speed bumps in the road.
“Getting supplies and logistics in Iraq is hard to do,” said Staff Sgt. Brett Lafreniere, who is assigned to the 732nd ESFS and deployed from Nellis AFB, Nev. “The biggest aspect is to make sure they know how to patrol and run their station properly. When we show up, we hold them accountable and make sure that they are doing their patrols.”
Even with the hardships, the 732nd ESFS Airmen feel this deployment has been a pleasant change from previous ones.
“Working with typical deployments where we’re just securing airfield, you don’t get to interact with the community,” said Sergeant Talbert, a native of Lake Force, Calif. “Being able to interact and watch them progress is pretty fun.”
Another security forces Airman agreed.
“Whenever you’re just on an airfield or a base, you don’t get to interact with Iraqis,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn Hardesty, the vehicle commander deployed from Langley AFB, Va. “You’re biased to what you see on the news. Once you get here and talk to the IPs, you realize that most of them are tired of war, and that they are trying to secure their areas cause they don’t want their families getting hurt.
“For every one bad thing you see on the news, there are 20-30 good things happening here,” said Sergeant Hardesty, a native of Terra Alta W.Va. “They don’t show that stuff on the news. Right now we’re protecting and monitoring a specific district, but over time we’re helping to protect an entire country.”