News: Escorts volunteer to keep watch
Story by Senior Airman Michael Matkin
Many of the service members here in Southwest Asia were tasked to deploy; others volunteered. Regardless, most service members are performing the job they were trained to do at their home station. However, the service members who make up the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron escort flight all volunteered not only to deploy, but to perform a job that most had never done before -- a job that entrusts them with the safety and security of the base populace.
The mission of the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron escort flight is ac-countability for the more than 2,000 third country nationals who work on base and to keep a vigilant eye throughout the base interior 24/7.
"We escort the TCNs who build and clean almost everything on base," said Senior Master Sgt. Roger Kuhlmann, 379 ECES force protection security escort flight chief, deployed from Vance Air Force Base, Okla. Currently, the escort flight oversees more than $42.5 million in service contracts performed by the TCNs.
Because the TCNs work across all areas of the base, the escorts have to be vigilant at all times, Sergeant Kuhlmann said.
"We are the front line defense against anything that appears to be out of the ordinary," Kuhlmann said. "If we see a worker doing anything that doesn't seem right, our job is to report it to the proper authorities."
"My main focus, while working, is to make sure the TCNs are not doing anything outside their normal routine," said Airman 1st Class Tristan Wynn, 379 ECES TCN escort, deployed from Fairchild AFB,Wash., "which means I have to remain vigilant at all times."
There are other duties besides monitoring the TCNs for which the escorts are responsible, to include looking in dumpsters before they are emptied.
Checking dumpsters ensures there aren't any prohibited items being thrown away, such as uniforms, which is a common operations security violation. To mitigate this, the 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron transit shipping point established an unserviceable uniform disposal box program. "The boxes have been a major success," Kuhlmann said. For example, in July, before the boxes were in place we found more than 250 uniform items that were disposed of improperly. This number has been cut in half since the boxes have been put in place."
When escorts discover Operational Security vio-lations, the items are recovered and destroyed. If a TCN is found with a restricted item or causes any other infraction, like fighting, the authorities are called and they assume responsibility for him or her, Kuhlmann said.
"While there have been a few TCN violations in the past, for the most part they just want to come to work, do their job and go home," Kuhlmann said.
While it's mainly all work and no play for the TCNs, there are opportunities that allow for mutual communication between the two distinct cultures.
"During down time, we have the opportunity to interact with the TCNs and learn about their culture and language," Airman Wynn said.
"Having a good experience as a TCN escort is up to you; you really get what you put into it. Plus, it has given me the opportunity to interact with different cultures. I have even learned a few words in Tagalog [the language of the Philippines] from the TCNs."
"It is also a great opportunity to learn from people around the Air Force. I really enjoy getting to meet new people from all career fields and learn about their jobs back at home station," Wynn, who works in personnel at her home station, said.
Currently there are more than 75 different Air Force Specialty Codes represented in the escort flight, Kuhlmann said.
This diverse group of Air Force individuals diligently escorts TCNs ensuring the lives of more than 9,000 service members assigned here have a base that is clean, in good repair, and most important, safe and secure.