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Phoenix Raven

Phoenix Raven

Air Mobility Command's Phoenix Raven program, implemented in 1997, consists of teams of specially trained Security Forces personnel dedicated to providing force protection for Mobility Air Force aircraft transiting through austere locations with potentially high terrorist and criminal threat levels.

The Phoenix Raven program guarantees an unmatched level of close-in security for aircraft transiting airfields where security is unknown or additional security is needed to counter local threats.

Concept of Operations
Teams of two to six specially trained and equipped Security Forces personnel deploy as aircrew members, on AMC missions, as designated by the AMC Mission Assurance Working Group - Air. The Raven teams are entrusted to detect, deter, and counter threats to Mobility Air Force aircraft by performing close-in aircraft security and providing flight deck denial to on-board threats.  Additionally, they serve as subject matter experts, responsible for advising aircrews on force protection measures.  Furthermore, Phoenix Raven teams are experts at conducting airfield security assessments and are trusted to assist aircrews in the performance of their duties when not executing their primary mission. Phoenix Raven teams work on all types of Mobility Air Force airlift missions including theater support missions, contingencies, exercises, and deployments.

Other United States Air Force Major Commands, including Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Combat Command, Air Education and Training Command, Pacific Air Forces and U.S. Air Forces in Europe have contributed a select number of Security Forces to AMC's Phoenix Raven Qualification Course.

The Headquarters AMC/A4S, Chief of Security Forces, is the focal point for all Phoenix Raven operations supporting AMC airlift operations. On behalf of HQ AMC/A4S, a Phoenix Raven Program Manager serves within the staff as the interface between the headquarters and units. In addition to the Raven program manager, the AMC/A4S contingency branch coordinates with other Major Commands and Air Reserve Component Security Forces to ensure Raven-trained personnel are available at overseas enroute locations to support Mobility Air Force missions unexpectedly diverted.

AMC has more than 200 active-duty Raven-trained Security Forces members assigned at AMC bases nationwide. In addition to Active Duty, the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard also maintain Raven-trained personnel to support their significant contribution to the airlift missions throughout the world.

The Phoenix Raven training course is conducted by the United States Air Force Expeditionary Center at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. The intensive four week, 12-hour-a-day course certifies Phoenix Ravens in cross-cultural awareness, international legal considerations, embassy operations, airfield survey techniques, explosive ordnance awareness, aircraft searches, and unarmed self-defense techniques. Students are exposed to more than 70 Use-of-Force scenarios where stress is simulated using role players. Training includes instruction and realistic practical exercises in antiterrorism/force protection, weapon defensive principles, verbal judo, combatives, tactical combat casualty care, counterintelligence awareness, and tactical baton employment.

Because of the terrorist attacks against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, Phoenix Raven candidates are trained on anti-hijacking duties by Federal Air Marshals at their Service Training Center in Atlantic City, N.J. Using the latest in proven technologies and methods from lessons learned and from other agencies, the qualification course is constantly updated to provide the best training possible.

After course completion, unit Program Managers sustain a high level of preparedness for their Ravens through intense physical training, realistic Use-of-Force scenarios, and written and practical evaluations. Additional courses in geographic/cultural orientation offered by the Air Force, Army, and other Department of Defense agencies are provided to increase members' awareness of cultural areas they frequently transit on missions. Combat survival and additional aircrew-specific training have been added to meet theater aircrew requirements.

The first Ravens graduated in February 1997. Since then, only 3,200 Air Force Security Forces have graduated from the Phoenix Raven Qualification Course. Graduates from the course also include members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Federal Air Marshal Service. Upon graduation, Air Force Ravens are issued a lifetime numeric identifier for their accomplishment. In addition, the identifier eases manpower and operational tracking requirements within AMC.

The USS Cole Commission panel recognized the Phoenix Raven program as the best antiterrorism program and recommended that other Department of Defense agencies benchmark its success. Phoenix Raven presentations have been given to the Chief of Naval Operations, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander of the Pacific Fleet Submarine Force and the Defense Attaché Office in the Pentagon.

The Phoenix Raven program has been recognized for its innovative approach to Force Protection. In 1999, the program earned honors as DOD's Most Outstanding Antiterrorism Innovation or Action in the Command category. The program also received the Federal Executive Board (St. Louis Chapter) Year 2000 Team Performance Award. In addition to program management awards, four members assigned to the AMC/A4S Security Forces Operations Division have been awarded the Air Force's Outstanding Intelligence Contributor Award.

The Phoenix Raven Program was called upon during Operation Allies Refuge (OAR), the massive U.S. military effort to evacuate more than 124,000 people out of Kabul, Afghanistan during the last days of the United States’ longest war there.  More than 150 Phoenix Ravens and Fly Away Security (FAS) members were rapidly positioned to secure every Mobility Air Force aircraft supporting OAR after more than 800 Afghan civilians swarmed an AMC C-17 aircraft in Kabul to seek safety and flee the Taliban.  More than 62 Phoenix Ravens and FAS members have been submitted to receive Air Medals for their steadfast contributions during OAR. Moreover, two Phoenix Ravens were presented the Distinguished Flying Cross by the 18th Air Force Commander for their swift actions that defeated a mid-air assault on a C-17 cockpit during the Afghan airlift.

Call DSN 779-0655 or Commercial (618) 229-0655 for more details about the Phoenix Raven program.

(Current as of January 2023)