The Story of America's Peacekeepers and Her Defenders
How it All Began
On July 26, 1947, President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 into law. This Act authorized the creation of the United States Air Force, which would take over the personnel, aircraft, and mission of the AAF including the MP force that would eventually become the United States Air Force Security Forces. Read More >
Before the issue of the Security Forces Badge, Air Police wore brassards. The brassard was a symbol of legal authority which identified the wearer as a Air Policeman. Despite the history behind the Military Police brassard, many Air Police of the time felt that it was a poor insignia of authority.
The brassard was prone to wrinkle extensively during the course of duty and often slipped down the arm. As a result, Air Police leadership requested a shield to replace the brassard. The Air Force Security Forces still issues/utilizes the brassard at many deployed locations today. In addition, some non-deployed bases issue brassards to specialty units such as Town Patrol and Customs.
In October 1956, the Air Provost Marshal requested permission to design and field test an official Air Police Shield. By May 1957, permission had been received and the design process had been completed. Units across the Air Force in three major commands began receiving the first official Air Police Shields to field test. Initially, the shield was similar to the current representation, save for the fact that it was silver plated with blue and white inlays and bore the words 'Air Police.' When they were first issued they were strictly controlled. They were kept in the flight locker and pinned on prior to guardmount and removed at end of tour and returned to the locker.
During field trials, AP's reported that the inlays often chipped off, giving the shield a worn look. Additionally the pins that held the shield to the uniform often broke off. Following a redesign, the inlays were deleted, and the pins were replaced by a clasp much the same as found on civilian police badges. Starting in February 1959, distribution of the new Air Police Shield to units across the Air Force was begun, and completed in 1960. During this transition, AP's continued to wear the original brassard.
The shield underwent further redesign in November 1966 when the Air Force renamed the Air Police. The new shield remained much the same as its predecessor, except that it was no longer silver plated, but made of a silver colored base metal and bore the inscription 'Security Police,' which was the new title of the career field.
The Security Police shield is a symbol of authority and responsibility to each member who wears it. Because of this, the Air Force initially feared that SP's could abuse the power that came with the shield. As a result, shields were issued to Squadron Commanders and were squadron property. Each shield was issued to on duty Security Police at weapons issue and subsequently turned in after each shift of duty. This policy was relaxed in the mid 1960's although the badge remained squadron property it was retained by the individual until PCS.
The metal shield was worn on both the dress uniform, and the fatigues. By 1975, Security Police leadership realized that a new solution was needed. When worn on the fatigue uniform, the shield was prone to damage from abuse sustained during the performance of duty. As result, Air Force leadership created and authorized a cloth shield to be worn on the fatigue uniform. The metal shield was still worn of the dress uniform. Originally, the cloth shield was sewn of silver and blue thread on a fatigue background. In 1979, a subdued cloth shield replaced the original, and is the standard for all utility uniforms.
Around 1982 the Air Force experimented with a smaller sized shield. This "mini badge" was designed for wear by Law Enforcement Specialists. The size did not go over well and the Air Force went back to the full size badge.
In the late 1990's the Security forces Shield was changed to a chrome finish to match the other uniform badges that were under revision.
History of the shield provided by the Security Forces Training Center
The beret is a symbol of achievement and recognition. Many elite groups within other branches of military service have adopted the beret for this same reason. No matter what the color or insignia, the beret has been the trademark that identifies a particular group as being special and apart from the average military soldier, sailor, or airman.
First to wear a dark blue beret were the Strategic Air Command Elite Guard. in 1957 General LeMay personally chose the uniform and one of the unique items was the dark blue beret. They continuously wore the blue beret until it was chosen as the primary headgear for all Security Police members.
The roots that eventually lead to the Security Police beret are often traced back to the 1041st Security Police Squadron (Test) and "Operation Safeside" during 1965-67. The mission of the Air Police was changing, and this specially trained Task Force adopted a light blue beret with a Falcon patch as their symbol. It can only be speculated as to whether the idea came from the Army Ranger beret, since the initial cadre of the 1041st SPS received it's initial training at the Army Ranger School. The 1041st SPS evolved into the 82nd Combat Security Police Wing, but was deactivated in December 1969, thus bringing an end to the light blue beret with the falcon emblem.
Although the beret was not an authorized uniform item for Security Police work, several local commanders authorized a dark blue beret for their units even though the official Security Police cover remained the white service cap. In the early 70's, Military Working Dog handlers assigned to the 6280th SPS, Takhli RTAFB, Thailand, wore a dark blue beret with no insignia. The other members of the unit wore fatigue caps and the "jungle boonie" style hat. Again, the beret was distinguishing a specific group of specialized personnel. Other Units adopted a version of the beret to distinguish their elite guards.
When Brigadier General (Major General select) Thomas Sadler was appointed Air Force Chief of Security Police and the two symbol AF/SP office was created in 1975, the Security Police had arrived. The General's task was to bring the Security Police into the mainstream of the Air Force and one of the tools for doing that was recognition—recognition of deeds as well as members of a distinctive and highly recognizable career field. The beret was one of the proposed uniform changes that had been being considered. Although there was significant opposition to the beret initially from senior colonels and MAJCOM Chiefs, the troops loved the idea, and that's what it was all about. Several months later the uniform board approved the proposal, and the beret was officially being worn world-wide in 1976.
The dark blue beret of 1976 was worn with the MAJCOM crest of the appropriate major command the unit was assigned to. It continued this way for twenty years until the forming of the Security Forces in early 1997.
In March 1997, the 82nd CSPW was reactivated and redesigned the 820th Security Forces Group. It provided worldwide "first in force protection" for Air Force contingencies. The 820th SFG also adopted the heraldry of the 82nd CSPW, thus explaining the falcon's revival as the emblem for the Security Forces, with the addition of the motto "Defensor Fortis" on the scroll.
History of the beret provided by the Security Forces Training Center
The Security Forces Creed
I am a Security Forces Member.
I hold allegiance to my country, devotion to duty, and personal integrity above all.
I wear my badge of authority with dignity and restraint, and promote by example high standards of conduct, appearance, courtesy, and performance.
I seek no favor because of my position.
I perform my duties in a firm, courteous, and impartial manner, irrespective of a person's color, race, religion, national origin, or sex.
I strive to merit the respect of my fellow airmen and all with whom I come in contact.
The Security Forces Prayer
Lord, you have called us to be guardians
of a nation founded on your principles.
Whatever our tasks as Security Police men and women,
we do them to serve you and our nation.
We are proud to accept the responsibility of this high calling.
We dedicate ourselves to our vocation,
and ask for guidance and courage in aiding our people
to live with dignity, in safety and peace.
We know that true security comes from your presence,
so we pray with the psalmist:
You bless those who obey you, Lord;
Your love protects them like a shield.
Use us, O Lord, as shields for your people,
reecting your security and peace.
By Jerry M. Bullock, Colonel USAF (Ret).
Adopted as the ocial prayer of the Security Police in 1981. Approved by the AF Chief of Chaplains oce.
Composed under direction of BGen Bill Brooksher.