A select group of Airmen are tasked with providing close-in security for mobility air forces aircraft transiting airfields where security is unknown or additional security is needed to counter local threats. They are known as Phoenix Ravens.
More commonly called “Ravens,” this small community of specialized security forces Airmen are trained to detect, deter and counter threats to Air Mobility Command aircraft. They perform aircraft security; advise aircrews on force protection measures; conduct airfield assessments; and assist aircrews in the performance of their duties when not performing their primary security duties.
“The Raven program safeguards our nation’s rapid global mobility mission,” Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, the AMC commander, said in a recent memo. “These professional security forces Airmen ensure the highest level of force protection for AMC’s strategic airlift assets and personnel, no matter what the operations environment may be.”
Tech. Sgt. Brooke Williams, the 60th Security Forces Squadron’s Raven program manager, said the mission focuses on securing aircraft and aircrews for the nation’s global mobility mission.
“Without us (Ravens) mobility aircraft are limited in the locations they can go,” Williams said. “We are a specialized security detail that provides AMC aircraft a low-visibility, discrete security team for certain locations that higher headquarters deems unsecure.”
Earning the title isn’t easy. Before a security forces member can become a Raven, he or she must complete the Phoenix Raven course at the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.
The training is an intensive 22-day course that covers subjects such as cross-cultural awareness, legal considerations, embassy operations, airfield survey techniques, explosive ordnance awareness, aircraft searches and unarmed self-defense techniques.
Throughout the training, students are exposed to more than 70 use-of-forces scenarios where stress is simulated using role players. Training includes instruction and realistic practical exercises in antiterrorism and force protection, weapon system security, verbal judo, combatives, tactical baton employments, and advanced firearms proficiency.
Since the first Ravens graduated in early 1997, about 2,200 other security forces Airmen have graduated from the course, making the Phoenix Raven community a close-knit team that features a robust operations tempo.
“On average, our team spends about two weeks on the road and one week at home station,” Williams said.
But Williams added that the mission-set is unlike any other within the security forces career field.
“You get to see the global reach that AMC has,” she said. “You get to travel and see firsthand the impact that the Air Force has around the world.”