412th Test Wing Security Forces Squadron Ramps up Augmentation Force Training in Support of COVID-19 Times
By Grady Fontana, 412th Test Wing
/ Published April 17, 2020
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
During a time of reduced manning levels when mission-essential personnel are the only ones allowed to work on Edwards Air Force Base due to the COVID-19 pandemic, units are coming up with unique, unconventional or alternative ways to continue with the mission and maintain a steady state as a force in readiness.
Though no one could have predicted the scenario that we live in of social and physical distancing, quarantine and isolation, military units still have a requirement to persevere through and accomplish its mission.
The 412th Security Forces Squadron (SFS), 412th Test Wing, at Edwards AFB, California, recently assured its place in the ready and conducted training to certify its latest pool of Airmen, March 24-April 9, that will fill the ranks of the Augmentation Force (AUGFOR).
“It’s crucial to both the 412th Test Wing and 412th Security Forces Squadron’s missions to have a trained and certified augmentation force,” said Chief Master Sgt. Chad T. Luderman, security forces manager, 412th Security Forces Squadron. “The mission of the AUGFOR program is to train, equip, and properly use assigned AUGFOR personnel to provide force protection support for temporary or short-term workload surges during wing-level exercises, peacetime, wartime contingencies, or emergency situations and scenarios.”
Though these augmented Airmen from various units across Edwards AFB are on stand-by, in the event they’re called upon, they’ve received the proper training that’s expected of them to fill a gap when and where required.
If activated they will be assigned and posted commensurate with their training and grade, and receive continuous and applicable on-the-job training while assigned to the AUGFOR program. They will work alongside a Security Forces (SF) member and backfill any vacant SF positions.
“If they were to get activated they're basically trained to help us perform basic functions,” said Tech. Sgt. Bryan Clarke, assistant training non-commissioned officer-in-charge, 412th Security Forces Squadron. "They could help out with a patrol, if it came down to that, but primarily they're here to help out at the entry control point at the gate.”
At Edwards AFB, a typical AUGFOR is staffed with 30 Airmen of varying ranks, grades and from a mix of Edwards AFB units. During the recent training evolution, Edwards units came together and provided a plus-up of about 90 Airmen to fill the AUGFOR billets.
“Since we needed to maintain social distancing, we conducted classes in two different classrooms,” said Clarke. Each classroom had between 10 to 12 people and the SF Airmen trained about 20-25 Airmen during each three-day session.
Training was broken down to smaller groups and included two days of classroom time with a day of practical application drills that covered the tactics, techniques and procedures of using the expandable baton. Some Airmen went to the range to shoot the M14 service rifle and the M9 service pistol during a familiarization course.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the training section was in the process of re-writing the program to request an increase in the allocation to 50.
However, when COVID-19 began to spread, the Test Wing granted the SFS 90 service members, instead of the 50 SFS was originally requesting.
“There were a few hurdles that we had to maneuver around to get the program back on track,” said Luderman. “But once we knew the Test Wing Commander’s intent, all organizations within the 412 Test Wing, and several of our tenant organizations, immediately reached out to us to determine what level of support they needed to provide for the AUGFOR program.”
While the AUGFOR runs the possibility of not getting activated, the Edwards AFB community is prepared for any type of surge in security requirements.