Developing the warrior ethos

  • Published
  • By Maj. Thomas Segars
  • 28th Security Forces Squadron Commander
One of the unique leadership challenges while serving as a squadron commander in a deployed location is providing law enforcement operations on an airfield with a large and diverse population of U.S., coalition, local national and transient personnel.

These operations must be handled while weathering indiscriminate and unguided inbound rockets, suicides, hostage scenarios, homicides, assaults, drugs, alcohol and other heinous crimes.

We also fall under a joint expeditionary tasking which subordinated our Air Force team under the 16th Military Police Brigade and Combined Joint Task Force 82 out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Sixteen Airmen from the 28th Security Forces Squadron had the dubious honor of marrying up with 28 other Air Force Security Forces Airmen to establish the first Air Force-led joint provost marshal operation in Afghanistan. Responsible for law and order activities on Bagram Airfield plus two combat outposts, our defenders faced a myriad of leadership challenges and provided key first response activities through a variety of situations, to which they performed admirably.

Regardless of service affiliation, leadership experiences in an already stressful combat zone are exponentially more challenging and always more dangerous than stateside. Though they present themselves on many fronts and at various levels, whether a defender providing law and order or a medical services technician working in the Theater Internment Facility, there is ostensibly always one constant: our Airmen perform brilliantly under the most intimidating and unforgiving circumstances with little or no supervision. This is, and continues to be, an underlying sentiment echoed time and again by top leadership echelons of the U.S. Army; which is a big part of the reason why the Army continues to ask for Airmen in support of their traditional taskings.

On multiple occasions, weathering nearly 24 day and night indirect fire attacks on Bagram in a six month period, with multiple fatalities, injuries and property damage, it was Airmen who responded in brave fashion to triage and evacuate the wounded, cordon the area in anticipation of unexploded ordnance, and secure remnant parts and pieces for exploitation and further analysis by explosives specialists. Airmen were able to perform flawlessly because junior leaders took the time to make sure they were prepared for the tragedies of war--time well spent, in my opinion.

Since so much is asked of our Airmen, as leaders it is our responsibility to make sure they are completely trained and equipped to execute duties to the best of their ability; to "grow them" so they are able to perform virtually on their own, just as our supervisors did for us as we moved through the ranks. We owe our Airmen nothing less; superb and relevant training is a must. This is how the warrior ethos is manifested in each of us so we as an organization can continue to embrace the mantra, "train like we fight, so we can fight like we train".