Airman 1st Class Benjamin Ray of the 18th Security Forces Squadron checks identification cards at Kadena Air Base’s Gate 1.

Airman 1st Class Benjamin Ray of the 18th Security Forces Squadron checks identification cards at Kadena Air Base’s Gate 1. (Mark Oliva / S&S)

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Local base police are tops again.

The 18th Security Forces Squadron was named the best at a large Air Force base for the second consecutive year, topping other security forces squadrons, including the closest contender — Minot Air Force Base, N.D., home to the 5th Bomber and 91st Space wings.

“They saw we raised the bar,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Gus Green, 18th Security Forces Squadron commander. “But it’s a bigger piece than that. They saw it wasn’t just 18th Security Forces, but the hundreds of augmentees on the gates, patrolling … everyone on the base helps us.”

An inspection team toured here in May, checking things such as routine patrols, training, reaction to serious incidents and force protection.

Kadena security is performed by about 300 airmen. The police cover a 58-square-mile area, watch over an 8,000-square-acre munitions storage facility and guard more than $6 billion in military assets.

There are nearly 10,000 residents on base.

“We demonstrated to the team that we are a very busy base,” Green said, adding that installation of a $2.5 million surveillance system last year and training with other services gave police here an advantage in the competition.

Marines provide the Special Reaction Team and Air Force personnel train at the Marine’s Jungle Warfare Training Center at Camp Gonzalves.

Police also train with Army and Navy personnel, trading ideas and techniques.

Training is balanced by operational commitments, such as deployment to the Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.

The award also comes as tensions on the Korean peninsula are escalating.

Green credited the forces’ success to individual airmen.

He said airmen earned the accolades by standing posts, working long hours and working on their days off.

“I didn’t do this,” Green said. “It’s the troops who did this and the community. They should feel some of the pride because they made it happen.”

For those troops, the second time around as the “best in the Air Force” is almost unbelievable.

“One time is great,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Bill Seguin, a force protection noncommissioned officer. “But twice … that’s phenomenal.”

“What makes us different is the fact that the troops are motivated,” said Tech. Sgt. Leo Periera, unit deployment manager. “They work a lot of long hours with little time off, and they’re still ready for more. I think that says a lot for us.”

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