Security forces NCO remembers challenging first 'intruder'

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Robert Arteaga
  • 8th Security Forces Squadron
One thing I've learned throughout my 14-year military career, is that all stories, at least the ones worth hearing, began with the same four words -- "So there I was!" This story is no different.

So there I was, a slick-sleeved, beret-wearing security forces member. I was so excited to take part in my first air base defense exercise.

I knew exactly what to do; first and foremost -- stay awake! Then, challenge anyone who approached my defensive fighting position and if they failed to identify themselves or worse yet, failed to follow my instructions, I would finally be able to fire my awesome-looking M-16 -- I was so excited!

"I hear footsteps," I said to myself as I nervously stared out into the darkness. "Halt, who goes there?" I shouted. "Halt, who goes there?" I shouted again. Now what you need to realize is, throughout this process, in my mind, I'm attempting to justify how firing my weapon would totally be authorized. How you ask? Well, let's not forget that my experience with ABD procedures was limited to what I had just learned in technical school no more than two months ago; and of course, add to that the eagerness and excitement of your typical "new guy," and well, you've got a recipe for disaster; hilarity, but ultimately disaster.

Challenging procedures during contingency operations is a simple, yet in-depth process. When challenging passive or aggressive intruders, remain vigilant. Treat all individuals or groups as hostile, whether weapons are present or not. And always remember to use effective cover and concealment when challenging. Challenging procedures are described below.

· Upon hearing or seeing a group or individual approaching your position, command the group or individual to "Halt" just loud enough to be heard. Shouting the command will give away your position.

· When the group or individual stops, command, "Who goes there?"

· The individual representing the group or the lone person should respond with their rank, name, unit and status.

· After the individual identifies him or herself, command the lone person to "Advance to be recognized!" Command the person representing a group, "One and only one, advance to be recognized!"

· When the advanced individual comes within 10 feet, command the person to "Halt" and pass them the challenge sign, just loud enough to be heard by the advanced individual without being heard by others.

· If the person responds with the correct countersign, instruct the person to proceed.

If an individual fails to either follow your instructions or respond with the correct countersign, the below instructions outline how to place the person in a position of disadvantage in preparation for the arrival of additional response forces.

· If the individual fails to either halt or respond with the correct countersign, immediately place the individual in a position of disadvantage and notify your unit control center.

· Command the unidentified or noncompliant individual to "Halt!" again.

· Once the person or group has stopped, command the individual or group to "Turn away from the sound of my voice!" If the individual or group fails to comply with your instructions, follow the rules of engagement established for your area of responsibility.

· Command the individual or group to "Drop to your knees and lie down on your stomach!" Ensure you separate each person in a group before you instruct them to the ground.

· Command the person or group to "Move your arms away from your body and spread your feet wide apart!"

· After you have placed the individual or group in a position of disadvantage, notify your UCC of your situation utilizing the S-A-L-U-T-E report format located on page 91 of the Airman's Manual.

· Lastly, remain vigilant to the individual's actions and continually scan your entire area for additional intruders until responding forces arrive.

So again, there I was. After my second verbal challenge, I was convinced, at least in my mind, this highly-trained assassin was after me! And although I couldn't see this elite opposing-force warrior, he would not be taking me out -- not today! I swiftly brought my weapon up, aligned the sights, and prepared to unleash a fury of awesome-sounding blank rounds. So I held my breath, closed my eyes (yeah, I know) and squeezed the trigger.

Fortunately for that raccoon, my safety was on. But hey, it could have been a highly-trained assassin! And if I remember correctly, it displayed a keen ability to properly apply camouflage paint; specifically right around the eyes. Remember, although I may not have applied the proper steps to determine the identity of an individual, or thing, following the proper steps will undoubtedly assist you in effectively defending your area of responsibility and winning the war!