JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --
Battle cries pierce the air as 10 Army and Air Force security forces and military police members perform baton maneuvers in unison to the beat of their instructor’s orders.
These Airmen and Soldiers have taken the first step to becoming Fly-Away Security Team certified and possibly moving on to earning the title of “Phoenix Raven,” specially trained security forces personnel who provide aircraft security to Air Force assets across the globe at unsecure airfields.
From Feb. 13 to March 2, they’ve dedicated their time and efforts to completing the course, nicknamed “Pre-Raven.” The course is required of security forces or military police members aspiring to perform duties on fly-away missions at Joint Base Andrews.
“We want to know if they’re capable of completing the Raven mission under physical and mental pressure,” said Staff Sgt. Damien Hernandez, 811th Security Forces Squadron executive aircraft security member and instructor. “They have to be capable of doing it at the highest proficiency and be able to compete against those in our section.”
This quarterly-held course determines whether applicants are adept at the mission by preparing them for physical and mental tasks. Specific training curriculum includes coverage of teamwork, leadership, legal considerations, Redman qualification fights, baton maneuvers and verbal judo.
“We focus on the concept of teamwork, because something as simple as collapsible baton training has to be consistent so everyone is on the same page in regards to physical restraint,” Hernandez said. “If one person uses more force than necessary than the next person, there’s a huge lack in training and teamwork in there that shows that not everybody is on the same page.”
This overall theme of joint effort has slowly brought the team of trainees together and created a sense of unity between them.
“You could tell when we first got in there that everyone was apprehensive about working with one another, but we have since grown a brotherhood,” said Private First Class Micah Smith, 289th Police Company military police member and Fly-Away Security Team training participant. “The team bonding experience has just been amazing.”
Although the ultimate decision for who is accepted to the JBA program is made by the instructors here, some general prerequisites for attending the training include being either a security forces or military police member, receiving a 90 percent or above on the Air Force physical fitness test, have a record of good behavior, and receiving permission from their unit to participate.
Performance rating during Pre-Raven is scored based on a three-point system with the categories of participation, motivation and attitude.
For some participants, succeeding at this course is the start to living out one of their major career objectives.
“Becoming a Raven was my main drive coming out of technical school, so once I got here and made friends with some people in the Raven section, it really opened my eyes to how much I wanted to do this,” said Senior Airman William Schuld, 811th Security Forces Squadron area supervisor and Fly-Away Security Team training participant. “It’s not just a far-off goal anymore, it’s something I can do.”
The course provides development for military members in one of two ways: Army and Air Force participants can either earn a Fly-Away Security Team certification, which permits them to perform Raven-like duties at strictly JBA, whereas Air Force participants may advance to the official Raven school at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, earning authorization to perform the unique mission throughout the world.
There are a limited number of slots available for the official Raven course each quarter, so some participants aren’t able to move forward, but still walk away with the JBA certification.
These Airmen and Soldiers made the choice to face the challenge of becoming part of the Fly-Away Security Team or Raven brotherhood, taking a leap toward their goal.
“I’m most looking forward to when this journey finally comes full circle for me,” Schuld said. “When all the screaming, push-ups and flutter kicks are over with, I’ll be able to look back at everything and say, ‘That was worth it.’”