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Defenders: Projecting perfect combat airpower

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Met Berisha
  • 31st Security Forces Squadron commander
Every week the 31st Security Forces Squadron leadership team meets with its newest Defenders for a quick welcome brief. I’ve had the honor of offering these briefs to our young Defenders across four squadron commands; and have been humbled to welcome in thousands of our warfighters at various US, overseas and deployed units.

As I begin the brief, the first slide I display simply reads, “What do Defenders do?” Recent technical school graduates usually respond with, “We do law enforcement” or “We check ID cards at the gate.” Seasoned staff and technical sergeants typically respond with what they did at their previous base; something like “Protect Air Force One” or “Provide final denial for C-130J Super Hercules downrange.”

Are these Defenders’ answers correct? The short answer is, well, it depends. It depends because doing law enforcement, checking ID cards, securing Air Force One, or providing final denial for C-130Js downrange are all facets of what we do – project perfect combat airpower.

Defenders are not just cops. They are, in their own right, a truly integrated combat weapon system for our combatant commanders. Defenders are the one, true, all-weather fighter.

Simply put, air bases are nothing more than gigantic foxholes where combat airpower is generated, launched and recovered. Defending these foxholes, and ensuring the uninterrupted launching of its airpower, is an integrated combat weapon system. This system is comprised of a squadron of Defenders who are expertly led by the finest NCOs and young officers our country can offer to the fight. Throughout our Air Force, and around the globe, there are approximately 36,000 total force enlisted Defenders enabling the perfect projection of combat airpower.

The next time you run into a Defender, just know that the “integrated Defender, combat weapon system, all-weather fighter” you’re looking at is your first, last and sometimes only line of defense to ensure the perfect projection of combat airpower.