JBER Wet Lab

  • Published
  • By Maj. Carla Gleason
  • 673rd Security Forces
When was the last time your supervisor encouraged you to have a drink in the name of Air Force training? Participants in the latest security forces sobriety training Wet Lab were asked to do just that in order to give law enforcement officers hands-on experience administering field sobriety tests.

Ten volunteer participants from various active duty, Reserve and National Guard units around Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson were asked to drink measured amounts of alcohol based on their weight and size, and then submit to a field sobriety test administered by Air Force Security Forces members.

“They get to see, in a controlled environment, how they feel and where they’re at each point,” said Department of the Air Force civilian officer Michael Fritschie, who measured the participant’s blood pressure and calculated their burn ratio during the lab. “It’s a learning process for them too.”

Not only was it a unique experience for the Airmen test subjects, but the event also provided an invaluable training opportunity for JBER’s Air Force security forces members. Like a civilian city outside the gates, an installation requires a police force to maintain law and order and enforce standards. JBER has a diverse force of individuals, including Army, Air Force, civilian contractors and Department of the Air Force officers, who work day in and day out to ensure those who live, work and play here stay safe.

Keeping this diverse group of officers trained and ready when money and resources are tight, however, can be a challenge. That’s where a unique cadre of Air Force Reserve members comes into play. Several Air Force Reserve individual military augmentees, or IMAs as they’re called, who serve as full-time police officers or deputy U.S. Marshalls in the civilian community, host annual training courses for officers on JBER, providing both experience and hands-on opportunities that would be hard to achieve otherwise.

“We conduct this type of training here once a year for four weeks,” said Master Sgt. Eric Hermann, an IMA 673rd Air Base Wing security forces member who is also a civilian officer in the Los Angeles Police Department. “It is the same training the Airmen would receive regularly but the life experience these officers bring can’t be duplicated.”
Senior Master Sgt. Mark Hogan, a former active duty security forces member who has been an LAPD officer for more than 22 years, recruits quality civilian officers into the program and encourages active duty members who are separating to consider a position in the Air Force Reserves. Not only is it good for the officers to continue to serve their country, according to Hogan, the knowledge they bring back into the Air Force improves the quality of training our current Airmen receive.

“I’ve been in eight years and I thought I knew this stuff already,” said class member Staff Sgt. Karen Nelson. “They taught me things I hadn’t even thought of before. It was more than ‘here is a slide,’ It was “here’s a slide and here’s a personal experience I had dealing with it and what I learned from it.’”

“As a law enforcement officer on the civilian side I get a lot of opportunity to train and use my training on a day to day bases. I can then bring all of that experience and training to the Air Force,” said Master Sgt. Mark Parker, 673rd SFS IMA and traffic officer from Prescott, Arizona. “It can be difficult for Air Force Security Forces members to get real-world training. My ten-years as a police officer allow me not only to bring the curriculum, but the experience as well.”

The program also saves money. According to Hogan, this type of training course costs between $500 and $1,500 dollars per participant. At 22-30 members per class, plus travel, lodging and per-diem, the costs can add up. JBER’s security forces IMAs conduct the training here free of charge during their annual training days. At the same time, reservists bring a level of continuity and stability that is hard to achieve with deployment rotations in the active duty.

“I do what I can to make a lasting, positive impression on the Airmen I work with,” said Parker. “I had the opportunity to interact with some very knowledgeable non-commissioned officers when I was a young active duty Airman, and I enjoy coming out and teaching what I’ve learned, hopefully making that same kind of lasting connection.”