News>Feature - Phoenix Ravens train to secure aircraft, crews
Staff Sgt. James Burns, 87th Security Forces Squadron Raven, attempts a triangle choke submission of fellow 87th SFS Raven Staff Sgt. Amy Cottrell, during training at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, June 28, 2011. Working in teams of two to four or three to six, as determined by the Threat Working Group, Ravens travel as aircrew members on missions to help detect, deter and counter threats to Air Mobility Command aircraft and crewmembers. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. David Murphy)
Staff Sgt. Amy Cottrell, 87th Security Forces Squadron Raven, gains the dominating position on fellow 87th SFS Raven Staff Sgt. James Burns during training at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, June 28, 2011. Ravens training is available to service members from all branches of the military, Department of Defense and foreign nations. It's an intensive two-week, 12-hour-a day- course covers training in cross-cultural awareness, legal considerations, embassy operations and airfield survey techniques. In addition, service members undergoing Raven training are instructed in explosive ordnance awareness, aircraft searches and unarmed self-defense. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. David Murphy)
by Pascual Flores
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs
3/30/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Ravens have participated in more than 2000 AMC missions to international hot spots around the globe receiving such recognition as DOD's Most Outstanding Antiterrorism Innovation or Action in the command category in 1999.
The Phoenix Raven program was implemented in 1997 after a series of security issues threatened U.S. Airmen and the aircraft they were on. Two children stowed away in the wheel well of an unsecured C-141 in Mongolia on one occasion. In another isolated incident an aircraft was damaged on a Senegalese airfield guarded by host nation forces.
Working in teams of two to four or three to six, as determined by the AMC Threat Working Group, Ravens travel as aircrew members on missions to help detect, deter and counter threats to AMC aircraft and crewmembers.
No aircrew member has been wounded or killed nor has any aircraft under the care and protection of a Raven or Raven team.
Some security forces service members credit the Phoenix Raven program with both stratifying them from their counterparts and providing them incomparable opportunities.
"Being a Raven is something I take great pride in and it is a unique experience that separates me from the rest of the career field," said Tech. Sgt. David Tlumac, deputy project manager for the JB MDL Ravens. "It has given me a broader scope of the Air Force and Department of Defense missions and operations and ensures a lot of different experiences that I would not get in security forces."
While the Raven training program is conducted here at the United States Air Force Expeditionary Center, Ravens are currently assigned to other air mobility bases for assignment with aircraft and crews deploying to areas designated by the TWG listed on the Raven required list.
"Ravens are attached to the AMC and a big portion of the mission is anything that requires security on multiple types of aircraft," said May. "We also provide a Presidential Support Mission, at (Joint Base Andrew, Md.)"
Not all 14 air mobility bases require their own Ravens.
"Dover, McDill, McGuire, Charleston, McChord and Travis have their own Ravens - a luxury not available to all AMC bases," said May. "These bases are mainly located on the east and west coast."
"The Raven training program is conducted by the 421st Combat Training Squadron at the USAF EC, and is spread out throughout the AMC," said Tech. Sgt. Daniel May, AMC Raven program project manager. "Some of the service members come to us from as far away as Europe."
Ravens training is available to service members from all branches of the military, DOD and foreign nations and its intensive two-week, 12-hour a day course covers training in cross-cultural awareness, legal considerations, embassy operations and airfield survey techniques.
"The course is available to all service members, active-duty, reserves and guard," said Tech. Sgt. David Troche, AMC Raven program NCO in-charge. "Officers can attend but the main focus is for enlisted service members E-3 to E-6, and more specifically toward E-5 because they will be doing most of the work."
Service members undergoing Raven training are instructed in explosive ordnance awareness, aircraft searches and unarmed self-defense. The training also include instruction and realistic practical exercises in antiterrorism, force protection, weapon system security, verbal judo, combatives, tactical baton employment and advanced firearms proficiency.
"When our assets fly through international airspace or land on foreign airports, we are there to provide security," said Tlumac. "We can receive a deployment alert two-weeks out, two-days out even two-hours out, we're on call 24/7 and could be out for days, weeks, sometimes even weeks on end."
Such a demanding course requires highly motivate and physically fit individuals,which is why the program leaders are selective on who they admit.
"Candidates must have their commanders' approval and score a 90 or better on their physical training test in order to volunteer for the Raven training," said Troche. "Since 1997 to the present, we have graduated 2017 Air Force Security Forces Ravens with a total of 570 service members washing out of the program."
Graduates from the course include more than 220 members from the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Federal Air Marshal Service. Air Force Ravens are issued an individual lifetime numeric identifier upon completion of the course.
The Raven lifetime numeric identifier, like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier badge, is a unique identifier that recognizes an individual who has earned the rights to wear the prestigious badge or patch through his or her actions and accomplishments.
The 2000th Raven patch was assigned to Airman William Newman Jr., with the 811th Security Forces Squadron from Joint Base Andrews, Md., this past September. On hand for the historic event was the most senior Raven, Retired Col. Lawrence "Rocky" Lane, Raven Number One.
It was at this graduation ceremony that the guest speaker, Retired Col. Lawrence "Rocky" Lane, Raven Number One, met the young Airman who would wear the Security Forces Raven numeric identifier number 2,000 patch.
Lane, former Air Mobility Command security forces director, was among the first graduates from the Phoenix Raven program earning the lifetime numeric identifier Raven patch Number One in Feb. 1997.
"The Air Force Raven numeric identifier is entered onto our records for life and can only be stricken from those records for actions discrediting the Ravens," said Senior Master Sgt. Nathan Brett, superintendent for the 421st CTS.
"We are professional, top-notched security experts motivated to the protection of U.S. personnel and its assets," said Tlumac.