Tough to Keep

The Air Force’s top Security Forces officer, Brig. Gen. Mary Kay Hertog, says that the service’s Security Forces personnel are doing an “awesome job,” but they “are getting tired.” Evidence of that could be the “pretty low re-enlistment rate,” which she said is about 35 percent for first-term airmen. The problem is not just frequent and long deployments. There are simply too few Security Forces airmen to handle the workload. Most airmen who return from deployment have some time to decompress, but for SF airmen, they almost always return quickly to 12-hour shifts at their home station. According to Hertog, “about 76 percent of all our cops’ squadrons are at 12-hour shifts right now” and most have been “for the last 12 years.” To try to backfill at some stateside bases, the Air Force has started a test program to recruit and train civilians to handle the full-range of security operations, not just law enforcement. Hertog believes that will help, however, she said during a recent visit to Tinker AFB, Okla., the re-enlistment issue “really concerns me because I have to grow the career field; I have to build leaders.” (Tinker report by Brandice Armstrong)