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Airmen protect CJTF-HOA air assests

By Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald | | January 8, 2003

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Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa stands watch in the Horn of Africa region in support of the war against terrorism ready to disrupt, defeat and deny safe-haven to terrorist groups posing a threat to the U.S. and it's coalition partners.

About 400 service members are at sea aboard USS Mount Whitney, a sophisticated command and control, communications, computer and intelligence ship. Ashore approximately 900 soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines stand ready as ground, support and air assets.

Airmen of the 87th Expeditionary Security Force Squadron, 824th Security Forces Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Ga. are here providing protection to the flight line and CJTF - HOA air assets.

This is not there first assignment in the war against terrorism. According to Tech. Sgt. Francisco Dominguez, many from the squadron have witnessed this war on two fronts.

"This is the second deployment for most of these airmen. The first was to Bagram, Afghanistan," he explained. "In Bagram, the squadron had several encounters of small-arms fire."

Although the squadron has yet to face the same hostility it faced from terrorists in Bagram, the unit's leaders keep the troops motivated and focused on their mission.

"The troops know that there is a threat to the flight line and the aircraft here, and they're job is to prevent anything bad from happening. As long as nothing ever happens, we know we're doing our job."

"I have fifty-seven airmen working for me, ranging from airman first class to senior master sergeant," said Air Force 1st Lt. David V. Barrera, the squadron's commander and native of Valdosta, Ga. "The squadron is designed so it can go to the most austere places in the world to set up security for flight lines."

Task-organized teams of airmen stand post for 12 hours at a time .

"Before heading out to start a shift, we get together for "guardmount," where, as flight sergeant, I ensure everyone is present for duty, has the proper equipment and make sure any new information gets disseminated," explained Dominguez.

After everyone is deemed prepared for duty, the airmen report to their respective posts, which include a wide variety of security activities around the flight line.

Dominguez, from Newark, N.J., said, "The troops make sure only those who are supposed to be near the aircraft are on the flight line."
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