SP Badge  Defensor Fortis


AF Seal



The term security forces (SF) identifies the ground force responsible for protecting the vital resources of the U.S. Air Force. Security force members perform the military police function within the Air Force.


The position of Air Provost Marshall came into being in March 1943 at the direction of General H.H. ĎHapí Arnold, commander of the Army-Air Forces. When the Air Force became a separate entity in January 1947, and its military police became air police in November 1948. The Air Provost Marshal came under the Air Force Inspector General. The organization title became Director of Security and Law Enforcement in 1962. The term air police became security police in 1966 and then in 1997 was changed to security forces. So at one time or another, there have been USAF/MPs and APs and SPs and now USAF/SFs.

The security police function left the inspector general umbrella in 1975 and began reporting to the Air Force Chief of Staff. The title of Chief of Security Police then replaced the title Director. The security police headquarters moved from Washington DC to Kirtland AFB NM in 1978 and became the Air Force Office of Security Police (AFOSP), a separate operating agency, again under the Inspector General. In 1991, as part of an Air Staff reorganization, the Chief of Security Police was again aligned directly under the Air Force Chief of Staff. The Chief of Security Police and the staff needed to work security police policy issues was relocated to the Pentagon, Washington DC.

A little over half of the AF Security police staff remained at Kirtland AFB as a field operating agency, the Air Force Security Police Agency (AFSPA). AFSPA reported directly to the Air Force Chief of Security Police. AFSPA was comprised of four directorates: security; law enforcement and training; resources; and corrections.

In January 1997, as a result of the Kobar Towers bombing, an Air Force Chief of Staff directed reorganization of security forces designed to improve Air Force force protection capabilities, the Air Force Chief of Security Police was re-designated the Air Force Director of Security Forces, and in October 1997, the Security Police career field became the Security Forces career field. AFSPA was reorganized in November 1997 and relocated to Lackland AFB Texas. The new organization, designated the Air Force Security Forces Center, consists of three units; the Headquarters, the AF Force Protection Battlelab, and the 820th Security Forces Group.

The Headquarters Air Force Security Forces Center (HQ AFSFC) is commanded by the dual-hatted Air Force Director of Security Forces. HQ AFSFC acts as an extension of the Pentagon staff, conducting staff studies dealing with a wide range of topics, including nuclear security, antiterrorism/force protection, base defense, police services, combat arms and security forces training, equipment management, and military working dogs. The Headquarters consists of three divisions: Force Protection, Operations, and Corrections, with three geographically separated units -- Miramar, California; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and Charleston, South Carolina.

The Force Protection Battlelab's commander reports to the HQ AFSFC commande r. Force Protection Battlelab's mission is to rapidly identify and prove the worth of innovative Force Protection ideas which improve the ability of the Air Force to execute itís core competencies and joint warfighting. The Battlelab rapidly measures the worth of new ideas and presents them to the Air Force senior leadership for consideration involving changes to the way the Air Force currently organizes, trains, equips, executes, plans and commands.

The 820th Security Forces Group provides a highly-trained, rapidly-deployable "first-in" force protection capability to any operating location in support of the USAF Global Engagement mission. The 820th gives the Air Force a totally dedicated composite unit for force protection, drawing from many disciplines, not just security forces. The unit is composed of personnel from security forces, Office of Special Investigations, civil engineering, logistics and supply, communications, intelligence, administration, personnel, and medical career fields, providing the capability to assess each threat and act accordingly.


The primary mission of security forces units is to provide force protection to help ensure operational readiness and to protect war fighting resources. This mission is accomplished through a system of base and area entry control points, vehicle patrols, foot patrols, and sensor detection equipment. Security forces units at 102 worldwide locations, assigned to seven major commands, provide base law enforcement services similar to those provided to communities by civilian police agencies. Their areas of responsibility include traffic control, crime prevention, and investigations. Another key mission is to protect classified and sensitive information from unauthorized disclosure. This mission is done through several security programs such as information, industrial, personnel, and physical security, as well as systems security engineering management.


Approximately 30,000 personnel are assigned to Air Force security forces units worldwide. This figure includes the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves. The force is comprised of military ranks ranging from airman basic to brigadier general. officer.

Functional Specialists

The Security Forces Career Field performs force protection duties. SF duties require the use of force, up to and including the use of deadly force. SF duties ensure combat capability through the functions of installation security, nuclear and conventional weapon systems and resources security, air base defense, law enforcement, information security, military working dog activities, and combat arms training and maintenance. Security Forces participate in contingency operations. Personnel in this career field will be deployed and employed in sensitive or hostile environments created by terrorism, sabotage, nuclear, chemical, biological, or conventional warfare. SF members perform the military police function within the Air Force. SF specialists and civilian security specialists manage the information, industrial, and personnel security programs. SF Combat Arms personnel provide small arms training to all Air Force personnel, and conduct routine small arms maintenance.


Officer and enlisted personnel receive initial skills training in ground combat skills, law enforcement, security, and combat arms at the 343d Training Squadron (Security Forces Academy), Lackland AFB TX. The 343d also teaches a variety of other advanced and specialized formal. These include advanced officer and senior NCO symposiums/courses, various weapons courses, traffic management and accident investigation, corrections, and a base/installation security system course.

The 341st Training Squadron, also at Lackland AFB TX, trains military working dogs and handlers for all branches of the services as well as the Federal Aviation Administration.


In the current, post-cold war environment of declining resources, security forces men and women face new and varied challenges. The challenge of protecting the Air Force's operational assets, personnel, facilities, and information in this new world order is greater than ever. It requires security forces to create new force protection paradigms to ensure mission accomplishment in increasingly complex conflicts.

Army/Air Force