Released: Mar 19, 1997
LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- The 820th Security Forces Group, the first force protection unit of its kind in the Air Force, activated here March 17.
Brig. Gen. Richard A. Coleman, director of Security Forces, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., accepted the organizational flag from Gen. Ronald Fogleman, Air Force chief of staff. Lt. Col. Larry Buckingham will assume command of the 820th, the first of three organizations that will form the Air Force Security Forces Center here.
The June 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia accelerated ongoing Air Force efforts to protect its forces operating around the globe. It also gave the Department of Defense new insights into the operating methods of world terrorist organizations.
"There are no more safe havens," Fogleman said of the Saudi incident. America got a "tremendous wake-up call" he said, "and with that call, we've gone to work."
The 820th will provide a highly-trained, rapidly-deployable "first-in" force protection capable to deploy to any operating location. "The 820th gives the Air Force a totally dedicated composite unit for force protection, drawing from many disciplines, not just security forces," Buckingham said.
"It is the first time a composite unit has been built that solely focuses on security and force protection," Buckingham said. The unit is composed of personnel from security forces, Office of Special Investigations, civil engineering, logistics and supply, communications, intelligence, administration, personnel, and medical career fields, "giving us the capability to assess each threat and act accordingly," Buckingham said.
One of the other two organizations that will comprise the Air Force Security Forces Center is the Air Force Force Protection Battlelab which will activate in mid-April. In October, the majority of the Air Force Security Forces Air Staff function and all of the Security Forces Agency from Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., will move to Lackland.
On deployments and exercises the 820th will be complimented by the Antiterrorism Specialty Team, which is also at Lackland and was activated March 17.
The 820th will oversee seven flights in addition to a battle lab consisting of a variety of career fields to explore new technologies. The battle lab will be housed at Lackland, while the flights will be at: Eglin AFB, Fla.; El Paso Air National Guard Base, Texas; Lackland; Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.; McGuire AFB, N.J.; Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass.; Vandenberg AFB, Calif..