JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --
Many Airmen stationed here may not have much information or knowledge about the 627th Security Forces Squadron’s (SFS) mission at McChord Field.
It has three mission sets: defend the JBLM flight lines, protect aircraft in austere environments through the Phoenix Raven program and instruct Airmen on firearms and weapons handling through combat arms training and maintenance (CATM).
“It’s an honor to command the men and women of the 627th SFS,” said Maj. David Nugent, 627th SFS commander. “JBLM is a great place to be a defender due to training capabilities available here and the opportunity to partner with our joint teammates. I could not be more proud to be their commander.”
While the scope of their mission may be smaller than a typical Air Force base, the Airmen of the 627th SFS strive to ensure they excel at the three mission sets they are charged with.
Flight Line Security
Securing a flight line is a no-fail mission at any military base. C-17 Globemaster IIIs are the newest, most flexible cargo aircraft to enter the airlift force. Each jet costs more than $200 million, so ensuring the safety of the aircraft and those who man them is something the 627th SFS flight line security Airmen take very seriously.
“We are making sure the people who are on the flight line are supposed to be there and those who are not are staying off,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Soltero, 627th SFS base defense operations center (BDOC) controller. “We are enabling 62nd Airlift Wing missions to happen. We make sure those planes take off, land safely and that nothing happens to them on the ground at home station.”
JBLM is the only base in the United States that has two active airfields. This makes the mission for the flight line security Airmen a unique one.
“Being able to serve and secure [the flight lines] along with our Army counterparts is a pretty big deal,” said Tech. Sgt. Jessica Reyes, 627th SFS alpha flight sergeant. “That is our bread and butter, airfield security. It is a special flight line we deal with, so I think the work we do given certain circumstances of the physical security part of this airfield is very unique and we do it excellently.”
From the BDOC Airmen, who are the hub for communication and keep an eye on the cameras all over the flight line, to the ones patrolling the perimeter, 627th SFS flight line security Airmen keep valuable Air Force assets, both Airmen and equipment, safe to enable them to complete their mission.
While the flight line security Airmen protect aircraft and crews at JBLM, the Phoenix Ravens provide security for the jets and aircrews when away from their own flight line, or in special cases at home. These elite defenders keep aircrews and their planes safe while in austere environments, such as in the Middle East or Africa.
The JBLM Ravens make an effort to go beyond their security duties to help aircrews whenever they can.
“I think [the Ravens] are experts in their job,” said Master Sgt. Joseph Sorreno, 627th SFS Phoenix Ravens program manager. “I’m not just talking about the security we provide abroad, but I think we’re really good at collaborating with the aircrew, understanding their jobs and helping them out where we can. We take additional steps to reduce their workload, because we understand they have a lot going on.”
When Ravens are not providing security, they teach various security procedures, such as processing a large number of detainees into holding, to Airmen and Soldiers.
The 627th SFS Phoenix Ravens provide enhanced security and share their expertise to ensure both Airmen and Soldiers are capable of completing their missions anywhere in the world.
Flight line security and Phoenix Ravens provide security to others, but the 627th SFS combat arms instructors teach Airmen how to clean, handle and operate weapons to defend themselves while in a combat zone.
“I feel like it affects a lot, especially for people who are deploying, and I take it to heart,” said Staff Sgt. Louis Lira, 627th SFS combat arms instructor. “I want to make sure they are good to go. I hope no one ever has to use that weapon, but if they do, they think of our instructors or myself giving them that information and it clicks in their brain.”
During their firearms course, CATM instructors qualify Airmen on how to position, load, chamber and clear malfunctions for M-4 rifles and M-9 pistols. They also teach four firing positions and how to shoot while wearing gear or a gas mask.
“Airplanes do not fly without cops and no missions will happen without combat arms,” said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Beers, 446th SFS combat arms instructor. “They have to come to us to get qualified on the weapon to go on worldwide or local missions. We all come together as a team to make sure we’re putting out the best possible training that we can to meet the mission objective.”
The training the instructors provide could be the difference between life and death for some Airmen.
“I absolutely love being an instructor,” Beers said. “These people aren’t having rifles in their hands just to go to chow or anything, they are actually going into combat zones. Being able to be part of that, something that’s bigger than life itself, is absolutely phenomenal. To work with people who have that same drive to teach to that standard, there’s nothing better. This is the best-kept secret the Air Force has.”
Whether they work in flight line security, are a Phoenix Raven or teach combat arms, 627th SFS Airmen use their skills and expertise to keep those at JBLM safe.