News: Riverside native deploys, keeps Bagram safe
Story by Staff Sgt. Sara Keller
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - Staff Sgt. Alexander Alston, an advance designated marksman with the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, recently deployed from the 28th Security Forces Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.
Alston, a Riverside, Calif. native, deployed to work with an elite group of security forces airmen with the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, a quick reaction team known as the “Reapers.”
Several times a week, Alston and members of his team travel outside the wire to deter terrorist activity and build working relationships with the local populace.
“Our mission is to defend the airfield outside the wire through early detection, deterrence, response, reconnaissance and counter insurgency,” said Master Sgt. Troy Taylor, non-commissioned officer in charge of the Reapers. “To complete these missions, Reaper teams are comprised of dismounted patrol members, counter sniper teams and surveillance teams that have access to unmanned air assets.”
To become an advanced designated marksman, Alston went through a grueling two-week course of training where he learned how to be a shooter and spotter on the M-24 Sniper Weapons System, and the M-107 .50-caliber long range sniper rifle.
Now that he is a Reaper, it’s his responsibility as an advanced designated marksman to provide over-watch and deliver precision fire on select targets or individuals as his team dismounts and patrols high-threat areas.
“With the training and skill set I’ve acquired, I feel like I have a lot to bring to the mission,” said Alston. “I’m excited that I finally get to practice the skills I’ve been taught.”
As a Reaper, airmen on the team have many responsibilities, but certain parts of their mission are what really make them enjoy their job everyday.
“This is my third deployment to Afghanistan and I love that we get to go out and do what we’ve been trained for this time around,” said Alston. “This is a totally different mission from what I’m used to. We get to actually get out and see the fruits of our labor.”
This is Alston’s sixth deployment and he has been serving in the U.S. Air Force for eight years.
“Being in Afghanistan with this team, I get a real sense of self accomplishment,” Alston said. “I’m humbled that I have the opportunity to serve.”