Every base a fortress, every Airman a defender

  • Published
  • By Maj. Joseph Musacchia
  • 81st Security Forces Squadron commander
During World War II, Winston Churchill once said, "Every air base shall be a fortress and every Airman shall be a defender." This simple statement best explains integrated defense. 

Since 1996, the security forces, much like our brother and sister Air Force organizations, have been transforming and adapting to many different issues -- a smaller Air Force, increased deployments, an insurgence and reliance on technology and the global war on terrorism. The security forces have transformed from the air policemen of old to an organization equipped and organized to fight the enemy of today. With the assistance of our fellow Airmen, that mission is accomplished much more efficiently. 

Security forces now practice what is known as integrated defense of our installations. We're no longer focused on defense of the installation at the base fence line, the protection of the resources at the restricted area line and the mission of law enforcement. Those responsibilities are and always will be our core missions, but now our efforts are oriented toward breaking the enemy's "kill chain." We are focused on seeing first, understanding first and most importantly, acting first. Our patrols are equipped with the latest in detection radar and thermal imaging equipment to look outward from our fence line. Our patrols are dispersed throughout the installation, including Keesler's geographically-separated housing areas. They're much more mobile and poised to react to any threat to our installation, be it criminal or terroristic in nature. 

How can you help? Security is everyone's job. It begins when you confront personnel in and around your duty section that you don't recognize or those that just don't appear to fit in. It starts when we notice an unfamiliar automobile or package in or near our facilities. In all cases, it begins with each and every individual doing his or her part to remain vigilant in defense of themselves, their fellow Airmen and our installation. We need your help to see first. 

Integrated defense requires us to take an active role reporting suspicious personnel and incidents to our base defense operation center, 377-3040. We all need to be aware of our surroundings. The best way to remember your part in integrated defense is to be on the look out for "the presence of the abnormal or the absence of the normal." Report those incidents that are out of the norm and those that can't be clarified. With everyone's help, we can all be safe and be a part of integrated defense, where we see first, understand first and act first. 

As Mr. Churchill also stated, "One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half."