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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | Nov. 16, 2012

Andrews EST brings organized chaos to the force

By Senior Airman Bahja J. Jones 11th Wing Public Affairs

Blacked-out suits and weapons drawn, the Joint Base Andrews Emergency Services Team stormed the decommissioned Boeing 757 aircraft during a joint training exercise with the 811th Security Forces Raven team Nov. 9 at the Joint Training Facility at Baltimore Washington International Airport, Md.

"Hands on your face! Hands on your face!" team members shouted, commanding the attention of passengers and opposing forces.

The EST members swept the plane using what was called a tubular assault, controlling simulated rogue and frightened passengers and staff in random scenarios. Despite the distracting screams and firing of "dummy rounds", the team maintained control and demanded compliance.

"We create chaos to establish order," said Tech. Sgt. David Wood, 11th Security Forces Squadron assistant NCO in charge of the Emergency Services Team.

Each member immersed themselves in the exercise, treating it as if it were a real world occurrence until the command "terminate" was given.

So, who is this motivated group of Airmen?

The Andrews EST is a hand-selected volunteer force. Interested security forces defenders, gate guardsmen, response force leaders, patrolmen and Ravens can apply and are eligible for selection after meeting several requirements. Selection is also based on previous job performance ratings and recommendations.

"Each Airman puts together a hiring package, which includes letter of intent, chain of command concurrence, physical fitness assessment history, last three Enlisted Performance Reports and any letters of recommendation they would like to include," said Tech Sgt. Joshua Behm, 11th SFS NCO in charge of EST. "The potential selectees are put through a three-day evaluation, weapons firing, board and basic concepts of training. At anytime throughout the three days, they can be turned down for failure, subpar performance, or they can quit on their own."

This team is particularly impressive based upon the fact that they have limited opportunities to practice their skills as it is a volunteer force, said Wood.

"The Andrews EST has coordinated practice twice a month," said Behm. "The team members volunteer their off-duty time for training and other tasks."

These high-caliber Airmen are picked from the best among the Security Forces, and then trained to do very high-level tasks, said Behm.

"[They] are trained, equipped and armed to provide enhanced security response to high risk situations and developing threats," said Capt. Ryan Barton, 811th Security Forces Squadron operations officer and Andrews EST officer in charge. "For lack of a better term, they are in essence the military version of SWAT."

In fact, the Andrews EST team works closely with a number of outside agencies who are considered experts in tactical operations to hone their skills.

"The Andrews EST conducts joint training with local SWAT teams, FBI, Pentagon Police, Capitol Police, Department of Homeland Security, Army Special Reaction Teams and other notable agencies," said Barton.

The training exercise on Nov. 9 was a prime example of the joint training missions. The Andrews EST not only worked in conjunction with the Raven team here, but also received advice and oversight from civilian evaluators who were present. Those types of exercises are key to maintaining a well-trained and capable force.

"The importance of this type of training cannot be stressed enough and applies to all security elements on JBA," said Barton. "It is imperative that we train to a level that is as close to real as possible in order to perfect response tactics, while simulating the stresses of a real world event.

"Additionally, conducting joint training with other teams allows for cross flow of tactics and response measures. It allows development and perfection of joint standard operating procedures including communications (both verbal and non verbal), coordination, expectations, and assignment of specific roles and responsibilities for each team and team member."