WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE – The 88th Security Forces at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was recently recognized as the 2016 Air Force Materiel Command’s Large Security Force Unit and will now compete at Air Force level.
The announcement, made by Brig. Gen. Donald Kirkland, deputy director, AFMC directorate of logistics, recognized the almost 400-member squadron for leading an integrated defense effort and program protection for the installation.
Of particular note was the squadron’s ability to provide continuous force protection despite their high ops tempo.
“Being able to balance out not only with what security forces traditionally does, we have to balance that out with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base also being the home to AFMC, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air Force Research Laboratory and the Air Force Institute of Technology,” said Lt. Col. David Celeste, 88th Security Forces commander.
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is also the home for hosting events such as CORONA TOP, the Air Force Marathon and senior leader conferences all while continuing to deploy defenders like their counterparts at other installations.
Celeste said every six months a significant number of personnel leave, which creates a turnover. When those members leave, others have to step up to take their place and to get an award of this kind shows that the 88th Security Forces Squadron has personnel at every level that can take up those responsibilities.
The 88th Security Forces Squadron also partook in partnerships with local law enforcement agencies to enhance training and techniques for their personnel.
“We have a great relationship with the local law enforcement to exchange training,” Celeste said. “As an example, we have an outstanding military working dog training program with the local K-9 units in the surrounding law enforcement agencies where they can provide us with explosive and drug training at quantities that we could never train at.”
The squadron has had its fair share of individual recognition, with more than 50 members being individually recognized at command, wing and group level.
Celeste credits the non-commissioned officers in the squadron for their recognition.
“When you look at other career fields, and how many officers to enlisted ratios, it is much higher,” Celeste said. “You may have one officer to 15 enlisted whereas here I have myself and my operations officer, Capt. Matt Cole, in charge of a 400-person unit so we have to trust and empower our young NCOs to make life or death decisions. They continue to impress me making these highly challenging decisions at the last minute whether it is pulling someone over who doesn’t want to cooperate or making decisions and understanding how it could affect Wright-Patterson’s AFB unique mission sets here.”
Celeste said after being in this career field for 15 years, his experience has not always been positive as how others see security forces.
“Some see us as an impediment and inconvenience but that is not how it is here at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” he said. “The people and the local community are both overwhelmingly supportive of us. Almost 30,000 people come on and off the base every day and we by far have one of the highest throughput in the CONUS. The gates can get a little lengthy at times but I think overall there is an understanding as to why there is a line at the gate. They understand that it is for their security, safety and protection. With that many people coming on and off this installation we try to balance great security as well as great customer service.”
“It’s amazing to lead a squadron of professional men and women who stand ready 24-hours a day, 365 days a year and I am very proud of the entire squadron for their accomplishment,” Celeste added.
The 66th Security Forces Squadron, at Hanscom Air Force Base, won AFMC’s Outstanding Active Duty Small Security Forces Squadron and will also compete at Air Force level.
Story courtesy of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.