Defenders are FAST to secure

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. William Banton
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
A select group of 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Airmen are tasked with traveling with an aircraft at a moment’s notice.

Their concern isn’t directed at the long-term security or traditional police duties, but the safety of the aircraft and crew they are assigned to. They are the Fly-Away Security Team.

The Air Force currently flies to multiple locations in Iraq and Syria, all of which are in some way supported with security from Coalition or U.S. military forces. This allows the FAST members to focus solely on the aircraft, its crew and cargo. A tactic they call flight deck denial.

“Our job is to take care of the crew that’s assigned to the aircraft … they do a lot of missions that are on the spot, open engine running, type of drop-offs and our job is to make sure nothing happens while they are doing their job,” said Staff Sgt. Alfredo Catolico, 386th ESFS FAST Team One lead.

Multiple factors contribute to how and why FAST Airmen are assigned to missions. Some of these variables include the location, type of cargo and the amount of time the plane will be on the ground.

“It’s more for the peace of mind of the aircrew, so these guys are able to go into some areas that aren’t fully secure,” Catolico said. “They can do their job without having to worry about having to provide their own security.”

“You don’t want to be complacent so you try to do your scans and look out for things that might have changed since the last time you have been to the same airport”, he said . “It’s interesting..”

The mission requires a sense of flexibility and long hours, similar to what a flight crew experiences rather than a traditional security forces Airman.

“You have to be flexible because it’s not a consistent shift,” said Zoints. “One day you could be working in an office from noon to midnight, and the next day you could be flying and have to be up at 10 a.m. and be flying to 2 a.m.”

All FAST members are required to go through specialized training prior to arriving in the area of responsibility. The training is designed to help Airmen de-escalate situations verbally and in ways to prevent physical force. Catolico said the priority of FAST members is to maintain the safety of the aircrew and others working on the flight line.