Air Force

February 19, 2016

Open carry on base? Not exactly.

Airman 1st Class Connor J. Marth
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
(U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)
Air Force commanders can use the Unit Marshal and Security Forces Staff Arming programs along with the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act to meet the needs of their installation. The Air Force Integrated Defense team is looking into how to authorize Air Force personnel assigned to duty at an off-installation center or facility to carry an appropriate firearm.

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho — Due to the frequency of active shooter events in recent years, Air Force commanders can now enable members of their units to participate in the Unit Marshal Program. Those selected for the program and certified through the UMP course can open carry a firearm on base.

Mountain Home Air Force Base commanders will be strategically placing Unit Marshals throughout their base to ensure another level of security is always ready in case of an active shooter event.

“The Unit Marshal Program is meant to supplement security forces actions in the event that an active shooter happens,” said Maj. Jason Williams, 366th Security Forces Squadron commander. “It allows additional personnel to arm up and not only protect themselves, but also everyone in their workplace.”

The program is run completely by the unit commanders. They will choose which locations are the highest threat for an active shooter and which personnel meet arming standards to open carry a firearm at those facilities.

Once selected, each airman will go through an annual training course covering standard use of force, Law of Armed Conflict, active shooter training, shoot or don’t shoot scenarios, judge advocate training and qualification courses for the handguns they carry.

“I think the program is great,” said John Lawicki, 366th SFS instructor. “So far it’s been going very smoothly and everyone seems motivated. I’m sure this program will be a great tool to bring down an active shooter threat.”

After training and weapons qualifications, marshals will be back in their squadrons ready to protect the people who surround them.

“Each member will be issued a Beretta M9 92F on completion of the Unit Marshal Training Class,” Williams said.

“Each unit will have a UMP coordinator who will ensure all equipment and procedures are handled properly.”

While UMP members will open carry firearms, they don’t have the responsibilities of security forces members.

“The Unit Marshal Program is not a law enforcement function; they have no law enforcement capabilities whatsoever,” Williams said. “Security Forces members run toward the gunshots, Unit Marshal members are only to protect their surrounding areas; they are not running across the street to eliminate the threat.”

Personnel interested in the UMP can run a request through their chain of command to be approved by their unit commander. Commanders will assess the need for a UMP member in their area and either approve or deny a submission.

Through the UMP, Mountain Home AFB wants to ensure everyone is as safe and protected as possible in an active shooter situation.

“Know that the marshals [will be] trained, certified, equipped and monitored by their leadership to ensure we have the right people armed up,” Williams said.

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