The Global War on Terror - 2000’s
The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and the ensuing Global War on Terror brought about broad changes in how security forces conducted its home station and deployed mission.
Operation Enduring Freedom
On December 16, 2001, the military launched an operation against the Taliban called Operation Enduring Freedom. Personnel labored in the bitter cold to build a base from scratch at Manas International Airport, in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan.
Within three months, 200 tents were set up and more than 12 million pounds of cargo and over 1,000 troops were processed. Along with performing force protection duties on base, they went outside the wire patrolling nearby villages to conduct counter insurgency operations aimed at deterring stand-off attacks and developing a rapport with the villagers.
Operation Iraqi Freedom
On March 19, 2003, the US opened began an aerial bombardment of Iraq to kick off Operation Iraqi Freedom. As many SF members supported the effort by securing airfields around the world, others prepared to enter Iraq itself.
Assisting its sister services would require some of the most fundamental changes in the Air Force in general and the security forces in particular since the creation of the Air Force in 1947. Many of these changes were brought about by new, non-traditional missions taken on by the Air Force to assist the Army and Marines. One of these new tasks was convoy escort duty. The major aerial port for Iraq was Balad Air Base, 40 miles north of Baghdad. From Balad, supplies were distributed to the field by air or military and civilian truck convoys under protection of the Army or Marines.
Operation Desert Safe Side
On January 1, 2005, Task Force (TF) 1041, built around a squadron of the 820 SFG, launched Operation Desert Safe Side, a 60-day operation to kill or capture insurgents that had bombarded the base at Balad with mortars, some with up to a 6.5 kilometer range. This led to the capture of:
17 high value targets (high ranking insurgents and terrorists)
Eight major weapons caches
98 other insurgents and terrorists
Reduced enemy attacks to near zero
From January 2005 to December 2009, Security Forces took part in another unique mission of Security Forces in Iraq by helping to staff US Central Command’s (CENTCOM) largest internment facility at Camp Bucca. This facility housed over 20,000 detainees, making it the largest facility of its kind in the world. SF troops were responsible for direct care of detainees which included ensuring food, water, and medical care were available. SF also helped establish a training course for the Iraqi correctional officers who worked at their sides. In addition to working in a corrections environment inside the facility, SF helped provide security for the compound. Defenders manned towers, conducted perimeter patrols, provided entry control, and provided a Quick Reaction Force (QRF). The QRF conducted detainee in-processing, searched the compound for contraband, and provided tactical response to disturbances.
In August 2006, Security Forces were tasked to train and deploy a Police Transition Team to Baghdad with their first focus on training Iraqi police forces. The second focus was to help the people of Iraq take back some of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods from insurgents.
In the summer of 2008, the 332d Expeditionary Security Forces Group stood up at Balad AB, Iraq, which is the most important hub for air activity in the Iraq Theater of Operations. This marked the first time since the Vietnam War that SF assumed full responsibility for the security of a major air base in a combat zone. The unit, which numbers close to 1,000 members (over 600 SF plus coalition forces), provides all interior security, entry control, and air provost services to the base. Additionally, the group supports the outside-the-wire mission with defenders who have received extensive specialized training at the 99th Ground Combat Training Squadron, Creech AFB, NV.
Text provided by the USAF Security Forces Technical Training Center