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Serve and protect: 181st SFS supports training exercise

181st Intelligence Wing

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Keaton Webb, an Airman assigned to the 181st Security Forces Squadron, stands ready to defend an F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 55th Fighter Squadron during the live-fire exercise Jaded Thunder at Hulman Field Air National Guard Base, Ind., Aug. 20, 2021. The exercise presented various training opportunities to enhance security readiness for the 181st SFS. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Lonnie Wiram)

TERRE HAUTE, IN, UNITED STATES --

HULMAN FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ind. (Sept. 9, 2021) -- The 181st Intelligence Wing, along with the Terre Haute Regional Airport, teamed up to host the live-fire exercise Jaded Thunder at Hulman Field in Terre Haute, Ind., Aug. 16-24.

Approximately 1,000 military personnel and dozens of aircraft were located at Hulman Field, which increased the need for additional manpower to facilitate and provide security for the exercise. The 181st Security Forces Squadron, along with defenders from other squadrons, was called in to help.

“During Jaded Thunder, security forces secured a combined total of $2.6 billion worth of conventional and special operation forces assets that included restricted areas of military aircraft and a joint operation center,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Joseph Williams, the commander of the 181st SFS. “In addition, defenders provided entry control and safeguarding of an influx of DoD personnel.”

With all the assets that needed security, Airmen from five other security forces squadrons provided assistance.

“We have five states in addition to our squadron assisting with this exercise and who ultimately helped make this exercise a success,” said Capt. Williams.  “I have nothing but praise for our Wisconsin, West Virginia, Illinois, Arkansas and Pennsylvania visiting defenders and would welcome them back anytime.”

The exercise provided new training opportunities for defenders.

“This exercise brought training and a mission set to our defenders that we typically only experience during deployments,” said Capt. Williams. “Over 550 training hours were conducted in order to fully prepare for Jaded Thunder.”

During the exercise, defenders had the opportunity to receive flightline training and training on how to guard aircraft.

“For a lot of us, especially our younger Airmen, they haven't had a chance to see these aircraft anywhere, and a big part of what we do is flightline security and operational security,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Darrell Williams, the day shift fight chief for the Jaded Thunder exercise. “If this is the only base that they have ever been at they haven’t had the chance to actually do that part of their job, so they're able to take those skills that get beat pretty hard into them at tech school and actually use them over these last two weeks.”

Not only did the defenders conduct flightline security, they also conducted numerous vehicle and commercial searches.

“Since they’ve had the opportunity to work with things they protect downrange and [were] able to practice those skills, it will save them a lot of headache and possible danger when they do get downrange in the next few years,” said Master Sgt. Williams.

Williams, who has deployment experience with aircraft, had the opportunity to teach his defenders tools of the trade.

“It was a great experience being able to teach and to show the Airmen what exactly we do downrange,” said Williams. “I enjoyed passing on knowledge and fixing small gaps we had here and there so the defenders are safer as they move in their career.”

For example, learning and experiencing new skills was beneficial to U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Keaton Webb, a defender with the 181st SFS.

“My involvement with the exercise has been quite an experience,” said Webb. “Working along our own flightlines for the first time with aircraft, since we have not had something like that here in Terre Haute in a decade, was enjoyable.”

For Webb, exercises like Jaded Thunder are key to ensuring operational readiness.

“Exercises like Jaded thunder are always important to the security forces troops because it gives us the opportunity to brush up on the whole security forces job,” said Webb. “It keeps us on our toes for real-life events and situations.”