News: Defenders and goodwill ambassadors
Story by Staff Sgt. Christopher Willis
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - The sun rises on just another empty field outside an entry control point and by 8 a.m. it is filled with more than 300 Afghan locals all waiting to process through the gate.
For the bravo sector entry controllers of the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Group this is an almost a daily operation.
There are two medical entry control points located on Bagram Air Field that provide the registering and processing for all patients needing clinical care. The 455 ESFG runs the protection and bio-metrics scanning along with the help of the Afghan local guard. The control points have anywhere from 350-500 Afghans of all ages seeking medical care that is provided by a joint-effort with the Korean and Egyptian military.
The use of current technology and trained airmen gives the Afghan locals seeking assistance a chance to receive a higher standard of medical care. Many members of the 455 ESFG see their mission as a great importance in building that bond with the neighboring villages.
“We try to promote to them a better life style or quality of life,” said Master Sgt. Thomas Carpino, 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Group bravo sector superintendent. “Our defenders are basically ambassadors for the U.S. and we show our fortitude day-in and day-out.”
With the scan of an eye and fingerprints the defenders can gather biometrics from each patient. But some of the most important screens are done outside the entry control point with an eyes-on and hands-on check, similar to those used at security at an airport.
“The airmen these days are skilled in several pieces of technology when it comes to bio-metrics and scanning the human body but they are always ready to defend with their tactical training,” said Carpino.
Each airman is hand-picked by the leadership to be a member of the ECP defenders.
“We take great pride in our airmen because they have a tough job,” said Capt. Walker something. “Making the local Afghans feel welcomed and still providing security is a hard balance to achieve.”
For some of the local Afghans it is not just the promise of medical care that has them waiting in long lines outside the entry control point but the student vocational programs. These programs include hands-on training to learning basic automotive, electrical and computer skills.
Another great draw that brings the guardians of children 13 and under is the “Cat in the Hat” program. The program allows base members a chance to teach the local Afghan children how to read and write in English along with other educational goals.
The reward of working as a defender at these medical entry control point’s is not over at the end of the duty day. Airmen like Staff Sgt. John Silvia, 455 EFSG bravo sector ECP non-commissioned officer in charge, not only get a sense of pride for his job but feels he is directly affecting the hearts and minds of the local Afghan community.
“Being a security forces member here at Bagram there is not a whole lot we can tell our family back home, but with this mission I can tell them today I helped people,” said Silvia.