News: First line of defense
Story by Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi
UNDISCLOSED LOCATION - Much like a base in the U.S., the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing relies on work from locals to help ensure service members are used for mission essential work. Here, the base relies on other country nationals to work on base and provide service members with food, haircuts, cashiers, laundry, construction and various jobs throughout the installation.
In order to ensure the safety of all troops, each other country national must first go through the personnel search area and be put into the Defense Biometrics Identification System. Airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron run these programs 24/7, every day of the year.
“On a daily basis we screen OCNs to ensure they have the proper access to come on to the installation, and it can be quite the challenge,” said Senior Airman Brandon Shelton, 379th SFS DBIDS registrar who is deployed from Dover Air Force Base, Del., and a Frederick, Md. native. “DBIDS, which collects information on each OCN, is a great program which keeps track of who is on the installation at all times.”
DBIDS collects biometric data through fingerprints, hand scans and photographs from all other country nationals who work on the installation. Before biometrics can be taken from each person, other country nationals must go through the personnel search area, which is guarded by members of the 379th ESFS.
Senior Airman Vanessa Sanchez , 379th ESFS response team leader who is deployed from Dover AFB and a Chambersburg, Pa. native, said, “A day manning the personnel search area is never the same as the last. We have a large number of people go through the search area every day and each one of them must be searched to ensure no contraband is brought onto base.”
“It is an honor to do what I do,” she explained. “Although finding the right balance of being polite and professional while being affirmative and authoritative can be a challenge during the rush hours, I feel a great sense of pride in doing my job. It makes me feel great knowing I make a difference in keeping service members on the base safe.”
Whether other country nationals are processing through the search area or are getting their biometrics taken through DBIDS, language barriers create the most challenging part of the operation, Shelton said.
“Trying to explain fingerprinting to someone who doesn’t speak English and has never heard of biometrics before is by far the most complicated part of the job,” Shelton said. “We have to act out and show them how to place their hand and fingers. I’m sure the Airmen who work the search area deal with the same language barrier.”
After screening through the personnel search area and getting cleared through DBIDS, other country nationals are escorted and monitored throughout their stay on the installation, Shelton said.
“The search area and DBIDS are the first line of defense for the base,” Shelton said. “Nothing would get done without the team here and the airmen who work the search area. Together we keep the base safe.”