Air Force

June 15, 2012

What is a Phoenix Raven?

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by Staff Sgt. Mark Estroga
452 AMW Raven

Tech. Sgt Julio Sandoval (center), acts out a scenario of a mock hostage situation aboard a March Air Reserve Base C-17 Globemaster III, as Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Feller (left rear), loadmaster, 701 Combat Operations Squadron, looks on. Sandoval demonstrates proper procedures Ravens are expected to deploy in this type of situation. Ravens are capable of handling aircraft searches, airfield survey techniques, advanced firearms training, embassy operations, explosive ordinance awareness and anti-hijacking duties.

Founded in 1997, the Phoenix Ravens are the elite of the Air Force Security Forces. They deploy to areas where security is deemed inadequate and are the first to set foot off the plane. In order to be considered for membership into the Phoenix Raven program, a person must be serving in the U.S. Air Force Security Forces career field. There is a month-long, 12-hour per day training course conducted at the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Prospective Ravens are instructed on various subjects including cross cultural awareness, verbal judo and unarmed self-defense such as “Krav Maga” and ground fighting. Aircraft searches, airfield survey techniques, advanced firearms training, embassy operations, explosive ordinance awareness and anti-hijacking duties are also part of their responsibilities.

A day as a Raven is never a typical day; it can change in a moment’s notice. When a Raven deploys on a mission they travel in teams of two to six personnel, trained and equipped with standard and less conventional weapons. Ravens deploy as aircrew members on Air Mobility Command missions when notified by the AMC Threat Working Group.

The Phoenix Raven mission normally starts with the planning and reviewing of trip reports and field surveys conducted by other Raven teams or intelligence. The information collected aids in logistical planning for downrange operations. Ravens must be prepared for the unexpected. The Raven teams specialize in all matters relating to security, advising aircrews on force protection measures, providing close-in security to detect, deter, and counter terrorist threats to Air Force personnel, property, and assets.

Staff Sgt. Joseph Gross (left) employs defensive techniques by using a baton to deflect Tech. Sgt. Michael Hammer’s (right) aggressive attack. Ravens are trained in various protective disciplines such as verbal judo and unarmed self-defense such as Krav Maga and ground fighting.




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