Defenders help ensure safety, security during Aviation Nation 2019

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Airman 1st Class Chelsey Selapack, a defender assigned to the 99th Security Forces Squadron, poses for portrait in between checking ID cards at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 12, 2019. The SFS transitioned to 12-hour shifts leading up to Aviation Nation to maximize the amount of security personnel available to ensure a safe event. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Brian Guthrie)

As the main gate opens to the public, hordes of shuttles stream in with excited Aviation Nation 2019 attendees. The participant’s eyes are gazed to the sky while others are observed keeping the crowd secure. The 99th Security Force Squadron helps ensure the base is safe and protected while everyone enjoys the demonstrations.

The 99th Security Forces Squadron has transitioned to 12-hour shifts during the execution of Aviation Nation to maximize the amount of security personnel available to ensure a safe event,” said Capt. Scott Hlavin, 99th SFS director of operations. “We have conducted numerous trainings to test our response actions and validate our procedures for all types of incidents from a lost child, unauthorized drones and even defeating an active shooter.”

Defenders won’t be alone in the crowds of people. K-9 units have also been preparing for the larges masses of people.

Tech. Sgt. Matthew Halligan, a military working dog (MWD) handler assigned to the 99th Security Forces Squadron, and Alfy, MWD assigned to the 99th SFS, prepare to conduct routine patrols, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 12, 2019. The K-9 units are constantly conducting walking patrols all around base. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Brian Guthrie)

“Our K-9 unit has stayed on top of their training and are always ready for any situation,” said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Halligan, military working dog handler assigned to the 99th SFS. “Our K-9 units provide a great psychological deterrent while posted at gates and within the crowds. They will help maintain order during the air show.”

Additionally, Security Forces communicates diligently with partnering agencies to ensure a mishap-free event allowing attendees an entertaining show.

“It is paramount that our squadron works closely with Office Special Investigation and the Joint Terrorism Task Force as well as our local law enforcement agencies to understand the current intel reporting and risks so we can appropriately build our defense plan to deter, detect and if necessary defeat any threat,” said Hlavin.

Staff Sgt. Shaquille Otero, a military working dog (MWD) handler assigned to the 99th Security Force Squadron, walks Alfy, a MWD assigned to the 99th SFS, at the Desert Eagle RV Park on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 12, 2019. The MWD conducted explosive detection training at the RV storage lot. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Brian Guthrie)

Having large groups in one area can be an obstacle in itself. Providing the manning that can cover a sizeable area is one of SFS main priorities. They will have all hands-on deck including off-base responders.

“Our local first responders will be on base and are one of the most important aspects of our security fortifications,” said Hlavin. “They provide a common ground to assist us with dealing with unruly guests and transferring them off the installation if the situation warrants it.”

Finally, as the weekend ends and everyone heads home after an action-packed weekend, Security Forces stays on duty defending the base to ensure the mission doesn’t stop.

“The teamwork and communication across all different career fields has been phenomenal for Aviation Nation,” said Hlavin. “We each have a stake in the success of this event and coming together as Airmen will help ensure we are successful with this mission.”
 

Alfy, a military working dog, assigned to the 99th Security Forces Squadron, obeys a command given by his handler, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 12, 2019. The K-9 mission is to provide drug interdiction, explosive detection sweep all throughout base, dignitary sweeps and other missions outside of the United States. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Brian Guthrie)

 
Senior Airman Brian Casillas, a defender assigned to the 99th Security Force Squadron, guards the main gate at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 12, 2019. The SFS transitioned to 12-hour shifts leading up to Aviation Nation to maximize the amount of security personnel available to ensure a safe event. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Brian Guthrie)