Kuwait City AB 1994
The Gulf War Era
The 1990s pointed out the need for a highly trained and mobile expeditionary force capable of deploying anywhere at any time to defend Air Force personnel and resources. Operation DESERT STORM found Security Police involved in war on a large scale on foreign soil for the first time since the Vietnam conflict.
Operation DESERT SHIELD/STORM
In August of 1990, Operation DESERT SHIELD began. The objective was the defense of Saudi Arabia in the wake of the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. In January 1991, DESERT SHIELD turned into Operation DESERT STORM with the objective of liberating Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. During Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM Security Police personnel were tasked with securing air bases, providing dignitary support, securing classified information and resources, and counter-terrorism.
In August 1995, Air Base Defense Training moved back to Camp Bullis, Texas, and was, once again, under control of the Air Force. Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia also began in 1995. There, SF units conducted convoy operations and acted as a peacekeeping force.
On June 25, 1996, three SF members - Staff Sergeant Alfredo Guerrero, Senior Airman Corey Grice, and Airmen First Class Christopher Wager - were on sentry duty on the roof of a dormitory at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Just after 2200 hrs, they noticed a suspicious vehicle pull up outside the compound’s northern perimeter fence and the occupants suddenly run away. Suspecting terrorist activity, Sergeant Guerrero directed the evacuation of the building. The vehicle exploded approximately three and one half minutes later, leaving 19 Airmen dead and more than 260 injured in its wake. The three defenders continued to evacuate wounded and assist with first aid after the explosion. Their quick reaction was credited with saving numerous lives and preventing further loss of personnel. All three earned the Airman’s Medal.
Career Fields Merge
In October 1997, the two biggest changes in the reorganization of the Security Police took place. On October 31, the law enforcement, security, and CATM AFSCs were merged into one security forces AFSC and the Security Police were renamed the Security Forces. As part of the merger CATM lost their distinctive red hats and donned the blue beret.
While the new Security Forces would still perform the military police function for the Air Force and while in that role would continue to be called security police, the AFSC consolidation was designed to posture the career field to “assume duties and responsibilities outside the limits of the ‘police’ role” which was now defined as the peacetime duties of the former Security Police, while the name change better described the career field’s mission capabilities.
Air Force Security Forces Center
Air Force Security Police Agency completed its move from Kirtland to a new facility at Lackland and officially became the Air Force Security Forces Center (AFSFC) on November 12, 1997. The AFSFC was established as a direct reporting unit to the CSAF with General Coleman in command and was to function as the Air Force center of excellence for force protection. In addition to overseeing the 820th SFG and Force Protection Battlelab, the AFSFC had four divisions: operations, plans and programs, corrections, and force protection. Coleman was the moving force behind this consolidation at Lackland since, as he argued, “Synergism is created down here because the Security Forces Academy is here. Camp Bullis was a [sic] important part of it. And…AIA [Air Intelligence Agency], the intel part of it, which we were vastly depending on, was also located here. And this sort of was the home [of Security Forces].”
Force protection training was enhanced on November 14, 1997, when Coleman and 37th Training Wing commander, Brig Gen Barry Barksdale, cut the ribbon opening a new ground combat skills training complex at Camp Bullis, Texas. The $15 million complex contained the Ground Combat Skills Training Center, which housed administrative offices, classrooms, a computer lab, and an infirmary; the Peacekeeper Logistics Center storing $22 million in equipment and weapons; the Guardian Inn dining facility; and dormitory and billeting facilities. General Barksdale declared the new training complex to be “a giant step in providing realistic training for our security forces.”
Provided by the USAF Security Forces Technical Training Center and "Defenders of the Force: The History of the United States Air Force Security Forces 1947-2006" by James Lee Conrad and Jerry M. Bullock