SAVANNAH, Ga. – “If you go, I go.” This is the mentality required by the U.S. security forces Airmen who went through an initial assessment March 12 to join the 165th Security Forces Squadron’s newest undertaking, a Strategic Response Team.
The team, led by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Overholt, a noncommissioned officer in charge at the 165 SFS, Georgia Air National Guard, at the Savannah Air Guard Base, will be a group of security forces Airmen who are highly trained and equipped to respond to emergencies requiring advanced police tactics.
Overholt served eight years as an active-duty Air Force security forces specialist and three years as a police officer and SWAT operator for the city of Savannah. He is now a full-time security forces Guardsmen at the 165th Airlift Wing.
“This assessment is supposed to seem impossible,” Overholt said. “I want to see these Airmen pushed to their absolute limit and observe how they respond under this kind of pressure, and ultimately see them push each other and keep going even when they want to quit.”
The assessment requires each defender to complete an Air Force Physical Fitness Test, a timed obstacle course individually and as a team, a quarter-mile ruck march while carrying a telephone pole as a team while wearing full combat gear and a gas mask, shooting box drills with a rifle and a pistol and an interview and feedback session.
“This 'You go, I go' mentality I have is originally from the Latin phrase, 'Ecce ego, mitte me,' which translates to, 'Here I am, send me,'” Overholt said. “I am excited to have a group of people who understand this concept and are volunteering to put themselves in greater harm and take on greater risk together for a greater cause.”
“The assessment was very challenging,” said Airman 1st Class Colin Ricco, a security forces specialist at the 165 SFS. “I continued to think about my 'why' for doing what I am doing, which is my family and my teammates, and that helped me push through and finish the obstacle course strong.”
Overholt said the goal in starting the SRT is to provide the base with a first line of defense with Airmen from the 165 SFS who are subject-matter experts in responding to situations requiring a specific strategy and specialized training.
“For example, say we have a situation on base that we decide we need additional support from an outside agency,” Overholt said. “Our team is going to have in-depth knowledge on the blueprints of the base, including first and secondary breach points and a strategic response plan in place so that we can easily communicate and direct those who come to assist us when needed.”
Overholt said the training is an extension of security forces training to challenge them to think in a more strategic way alongside other highly trained law enforcement agencies.
“This initial assessment went very well and they knocked it out of the park,” Overholt said. “They showed me exactly what I want to see, which is true grit and the ability to put their minds over matter to complete the course together as a team.”
The 165 SFS will hold another assessment this spring for any other defenders who are up for the challenge and want to join this special team.