Security forces commanders swap jobs for a week

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- When Lt. Col. David Foster arrived at MacDill, the security forces commander from McGuire AFB looked out over the waters of Tampa Bay and knew he was a long way from New Jersey. Likewise, Lt. Col. Steven Kauffmann, MacDill's security forces commander, probably was thinking the same thing when he arrived at McGuire the same week.

The two colonels swapped places March 8 to 12 as part of a program initiated by Gen. John W. Handy, commander of U.S. Transportation Command and Air Mobility Command.

The idea, said Colonel Foster, is for security forces commanders to broaden their perspective and foster new ideas about tactics and procedures that may help them strengthen force protection measures on their home bases.

"I think we are getting a lot more out of it than we initially thought we would," said Colonel Foster. "It's been beneficial and worthwhile for commanders and the troops."

Colonel Kauffmann said the swap was beneficial in that it is good to see things from another perspective.

"It's good to have a different set of eyes," said Colonel Kauffmann. "[Colonel Foster] sees things I don't see and I see things that he doesn't see."

Colonel Foster said he's picked up on a number of practices at MacDill that will be reviewed upon his return to McGuire. Among the things he saw at McDill he likes, are the way the manpower is utilized, particularly important on a base like MacDill, which is host to Central and Special Operations commands, as well as numerous countries in Coalition Village. He likes the portable guard shacks for their mobility and as a means of improving the quality of the job for the forces in the field. The use of bollards and steel cable around the perimeter, long-range cameras and radar for scanning the water approaches are examples of measures that greatly enhance security, Colonel Foster said.

Colonel Kauffmann said he has yet to digest the experience but overall it was a good exercise to increase awareness.

"It was instructional to see our differences but also to see the problems we share," said Colonel Kauffmann, who noted that McGuire also has a big gate rush in the morning because on-base servicemembers live outside the main gates and must enter the base the just as other MacDill employees do.

Both colonels will file official reports of their findings, but they also will discuss with each other what they learned, said Colonel Foster.

"It helps to step out of your little box in your world and boost your creativity level," he said, adding that while each commander feels confident in his force protection schemes, it is easy to become passive. "It doesn't take long to become comfortable with what you are doing so it's good to see other solutions and how others are handling problems."

Colonel Kauffmann said the unique security mission at MacDill has meant a "sophisticated and fairly advanced" force protection system has been established.

"We're fortunate that we have a pretty advanced security force already," said Colonel Kauffmann. "But you can never stop learning and improving."