DECEMBER 6, 2021 – Specialists with the 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron not only provide base defense at Al Dhafra Air Base from traditional ground-based threats, but are also on alert for threats posed by Unmanned Aerial Systems.
Counter-UAS responsibilities is a growing part of the Security Forces career field and defenders at ADAB are leaning on Airmen with formal training and engaging in plenty of on-the-job training to ensure the base is secure from threats.
“Our mission is to detect and defeat all UAS threats,” explained Master Sgt. Manuel Santiago, counter-UAS noncommissioned officer in charge with the squadron. “We have a variety of sensors and other devices that we monitor for potential threats and, of course, we always count on our Airmen around the Wing to be vigilant and report anything out of the unusual.”
The SFS also operates several UAS devices of their own, using them for exercises. On a recent Friday morning at ADAB, radio traffic amongst defenders around the base and the Base Defense Operation Center spiked as defenders responded to the sighting of a UAS over the Oasis Dining Facility. The “threat” in question was one of the SFS-operated UAS.
Two defenders arrived on scene and quickly began utilizing portable devices known as “dronebusters” to interrupt the signal between the UAS and its controller – in this case operated by Lt Joseph Gibson, 380th SFS officer in charge of anti-terrorism and plans. Once the UAS lost connection with its controller, the device landed.
Base Explosive Ordnance Disposal and firefighter personnel converged on the scene as additional defenders set up a perimeter to ensure no unsuspected person wandered into a potential danger zone.
EOD was able to examine the UAS in question and quickly neutralize the simulated threat.
“The C-UAS mission gives us the opportunity to work with a number of agencies around the Wing – comms, EOD, fire, OSS, host nation, and others, including several we don’t often work with on a normal basis,” Gibson said. “Building new relationships not only assists us with C-UAS, but I think it benefits both our defenders and the Wing as a whole.
Anytime you are building relationships, you are building a stronger team.”
Santiago said while the C-UAS mission is a relatively new one for Security Forces – the responsibility was first assigned to SFS in 2018 – it is an important one.
“Keeping our Airmen safe and our base and our assets safe, is the focus. C-UAS is a new tool to get that done,” he said.
Story by Master Sgt. Daniel Heaton
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs