by Master Sgt. Martie Moore
506th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs
5/18/2010 - KIRKUK REGIONAL AIR BASE, Iraq (AFNS) -- More than 280 security contractors arrived here May 9 to aid in the U.S. Air Force drawdown in Iraq.
The 506th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron will transfer authority for base security to the Army May 21. The contractors employed by Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions are part of the Army's overall security plan.
The squadron is the first Air Force unit to fully withdraw from Kirkuk Regional Air Base since the buildup of forces happened on April 23, 2003, nearly one month after Operation Iraqi Freedom started.
"We leave first because we are the ones the Air Force support function is here for," explained Lt. Col. Theodore Ruminsky, 506th ESFS commander.
"Security forces personnel make up more than a third of the personnel in the 506th Air Expeditionary Group. When security forces leave, the burden on the other 506th AEG functions that support the ESFS mission is greatly reduced," said Colonel Ruminsky, who is deployed from the 934th Security Forces Squadron at Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station, Minn.
The security contractor guards from Sierra Leone started integrating and training immediately.
"They will take over all the security forces and force protection requirements on the base such as perimeter security posts, main entry control point operations and escort duty," said Maj. Sam Dickson, 506th ESFS operations officer who is deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
The plan is that the transition will be seamless to the base populace. However, with any major change there will be growing pains.
"There may be delays at the gates and there will no longer be police services patrols which the (unit) provided," said Major Dickson.
After Aug. 31, the mission of United States forces in Iraq will change. U.S. forces will have three tasks: train, equip, and advise the Iraqi security forces; conduct targeted counterterrorism operations; and provide force protection for military and civilian personnel.
With the drawdown of the security force members at Kirkuk they are now available to pursue other missions.
"This frees up more than 250 security forces troop requirements, currently filled by the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard, which would have otherwise levied active duty members," said Colonel Ruminsky. "This will help reduce the one to one dwell rate on the active duty side of the career field, so this is a big deal. Now forces are available for other emerging AOR requirements."
"The Air Reserve component security forces personnel have been averaging a one to four dwell for mobilization, which is actually pretty high considering these are citizen Airmen with full-time careers outside of the Air Force," added the colonel.
As for the security at Kirkuk the contractors are soaking up the knowledge of the seasoned security forces team.
"They've got a really good attitude, I think it's going to work out fine," said Senior Master Sgt. Steven Fode, 506th ESFS sector superintendant deployed from Beale AFB, Calif. "They are eager to learn."