56th SFS revitalizes squadron, enhances lethality

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Defenders from the 56th Security Forces Squadron move quickly toward cover during Shoot, Move and Communicate training Dec. 12, 2019, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The training allows 56th SFS Airmen to apply small unit tactics in realistic scenarios. The mission of the 56th SFS is to provide a combat credible integrated defense force through the mastery of core competencies. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Alexander Cook)

The 56th Security Forces Squadron at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., is leading the way in implementing the Squadron of the Future Initiative within Air Education and Training Command by reorganizing their squadron to achieve optimal performance and increase operational readiness and lethality.

Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein commissioned this idea under the Year of the Defender initiative to focus on training readiness, modernizing our force enterprise-wide and improving quality of life with an eight-hour shift. The Squadron of the Future initiative began at Luke, Aug. 19, 2019, providing defenders with more training opportunities, protected time off, and reorganizing the unit structure into a leaner, more efficient system.

“We have begun the process of a reorganization within our squadron,” said Master Sgt. Maury Warr, 56th SFS flight chief. “What was formerly known as the prior S-function is now under an umbrella known as sustainment. Operations fall under a two flight chief system where each flight is assigned a senior non-commissioned officer who facilitates training and production. Weeks rotate where each flight has a reconnaissance day once or twice a week. On these days everything from firing, performing annual training, appointments, and perfecting paperwork are conducted.”

For 18 years, Air Force security forces squadrons followed the Army doctrine of separating the squadron into sections S1 through S5: S1: Commander Support Staff, S2: Intelligence Flight, S3: Operations and Training Flight, S4: Logistics and Resources Flight, and S5: Installation Security, Plans and Programs. The new test program has removed these classifications and restructured the squadron to be more effective and streamline communication transitioning to a three-system organization: operations flight, sustainment flight and command support staff.

Tech. Sgt. Dominick Peterson (far right), 56th Security Forces Squadron flight instructor, briefs defenders on small unit tactics during Shoot, Move, and Communicate training Dec. 12, 2019, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The training allows instructors to ensure security forces members are able to effectively identify and apply appropriate force to various targets. The mission of the 56th SFS is to provide a combat credible integrated defense force through the mastery of core competencies. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Alexander Cook)

The Air Force new strategy better accommodates security forces’ leaner force structure and the Air Force’s mission.

Since implementing the Squadron of the Future initiative, Luke Defenders have not only increased their training opportunities but have also improved the quality of life within their unit.

“I think that quality of life is something we can truly move towards now where as we may not have been able to before,” said Chief Master Sgt. Rob Granum, Security Forces Manager, Air Force Security Forces Center. “Now, we can dedicate a reconstitution day to essentially give our Defenders an opportunity to train and perform better and get after lethality. You can’t get after lethality if you have a Defender who is exhausted from being on post for 14 to 16 hours a day.”

The initiative also shifts responsibility to the lowest levels and aims to empower Airmen at all levels.

“This initiative truly gives Defenders a sense of ownership,” said Granum. “This provides an opportunity for noncommissioned officers and junior enlisted Airmen to take charge and own their position. When Airmen have more ownership in something, they take more pride in what they’re doing. When Airmen have more pride, they create a better culture within the unit.”

Col. Leonard T. Rose, Air Education and Training Command, Chief of Security Forces, (Left) speaks to Luke Defenders during a round-table discussion Jan. 29, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The AETC Security Forces leadership team visited Luke AFB to meet with Defenders to discuss the successes and challenges since the implementation of the Squadron of the Future Initiative. The mission of the 56th SFS is to provide a combat credible integrated defense force through the mastery of core competencies. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Alexander Cook)

The initiative is currently being tested at 14 security forces squadrons across the Air Force, at least one in each MAJCOM.

“After visiting with our Defenders here at Luke, it’s pretty evident that leadership and all the troops have embraced the opportunity to be innovative and make things better for not only Luke AFB but the entire Air Force,” said Col. Leonard T. Rose, AETC Chief of Security Forces.

Luke AFB is currently the only test base in Air Education and Training Command.