Mission Monday: Security forces enterprise pre-deployment training

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  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – It’s Mission Monday. Meet Master Sgt. Andrew Sertich, NCO in charge of operations at the Air Force Security Forces Center’s Detachment 3, Desert Defender Ground Combat Readiness Training Center at Fort Bliss, Texas. 

Sertich and his team of 92 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian personnel ensure combatant commanders receive mission-ready Airmen by executing all pre-deployment training for more than 5,000 security forces Total Force Airmen annually. 

Their work involves coordinating with AFSFC teammates, the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, major command functional managers, National Guard Bureau and Air Force Reserve Component managers to implement more than 130 independent courses. This includes all live firing and weapons training, mounted and dismounted operations, close quarters battle, counter-improvised explosive device training, military working dog training and small unmanned aerial systems initial and mission qualification training.

We asked the San Antonio native to tell us more about himself and the work he does for the Department of the Air Force.

What do you love about your job? 
That the position requires familiarity with a wide range of mission aspects, many which are beyond the scope of most operational security forces units. From weapons and air frames, to regional threats, you’re forced to grow as not just a Defender but an Airman. Additionally, exposure to DAF-level force presentations has been an eye-opening experience. Understanding and articulating the intricate details of how DDGCRT positively impacts the security and stability of entire regions is one of the many benefits of this job. We have the opportunity to learn from and work closely with thousands of security forces members each year from all backgrounds and mission sets which is a humbling experience! 

When it comes to your job, what keeps you motivated? 
We’re the final touchpoint for Airmen heading into dangerous locations around the world and as such, the weight and gravity of what we do every day at Desert Defender isn’t lost on us. Our cadre and all the supporting functions such as medics, vehicle maintenance, logistics, cyber and intelligence provide a vast network of resources to draw upon while we execute the mission. When you step back and look at what this unit accomplishes each day (often in field conditions), it really is inspirational and serves as the primary means for my motivation to continue improving our processes, course offerings and cadre. 

Why are you and your team important to the Air Force and Space Force enterprise and your customers? 
The Air and Space Forces enterprise is largely unable to carry out their mission without a safe and secure environment to operate from. That responsibility rests on all our shoulders but security forces are specifically charged with ensuring the safety and security of DAF assets. If we look back at air power and how it has evolved over the last 100 years, Air Base Ground Defense tactics and procedures are largely shaped by notable failures in security where entire airfields were lost, like at the Battle of Crete. This is at the forefront of my mind each day and I enjoy sharing these lessons with my teammates so we can remain focused on what is truly important for each other and our customers. 

Describe a project or event you and your team worked on recently that gave you a great sense of accomplishment: 
As a recent graduate of the University of Incarnate Word’s Master of Science in Organizational Development and Leadership, I used the skills obtained in that coursework to develop and publish our Instructor Development Process. Collectively, the team and I spent several months drafting and designing policy that was aimed at capturing the unique talent pool we have here as a Total Force organization. We’re continuing to evolve this process to ensure we are allocating resources at appropriate developmental milestones to ensure advanced skillsets are balanced to meet the needs of our cadre, the security forces career field and the DAF. This project serves as the bedrock upon which we can build a robust and professional corps of dedicated instructors to provide the highest quality training available to deploying security forces Airmen. 

How does what you do support AFIMSC’s strategic priorities?
I believe we’re supporting each AFIMSC line of effort on a daily basis. Our core function as a ground combat readiness training center is to increase lethality and readiness and to amplify warfighter culture. The other senior NCOs and I have an inherent responsibility to strengthen our Airmen and their families. Lastly, we’re setting new benchmarks with respect to organizational excellence as we leverage and develop the incredible members that fill the ranks of this unit.

Is there anything else you’d like to add which might help people understand the importance of what you do for the Department of the Air Force? 
Our mission at Desert Defender is centered around the DAF’s investment in training and equipping warfighters (of which we do both). Many people automatically default to aircraft and pilots when they think of the DAF mission, which is paramount, however those sorties can’t happen without the entire security forces enterprise providing security. I always point them to the last four lines of the Blue Beret poem: 

“This piece of ground, we will defend, 
Side by side ‘til the bitter end. 
So fear not pilot, you can fly all day,
This base is guarded by the Blue Beret.”