Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

February 18, 2012 at 3:38am

McChord Reserve Ravens ready to deploy

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Anyone aware of the Phoenix Raven program mission knows Air Mobility Command aircraft and crews are in good hands, regardless of where the mission takes them.

Just ask Master Sgt. Carlos Duell and Tech. Sgt. Ric Shumate, Raven team Reservists with the 446th Security Forces Squadron.

The two of them combined have notched more than 200 missions in more than 80 countries and five continents. And over the next month, you can add at least three more.

"I try to fly a Raven mission at least three to four times a year," said Duell, who works as a transportation officer for King County Corrections. "My employer supports me."

Duell, also the Raven Program manager for the 446th SFS, is gearing up to support Cornet Oak, a year-round Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard operation, in which aircrews deploy from the United States to Muniz Air National Guard Base, Puerto Rico, to provide theater airlift support for the U.S. Southern Command.

For those not familiar with how critical the Raven mission is, Shumate provides a quick rundown.

The program was born in 1997, said the Lacey resident. Raven teams are made up of anywhere from two to six security forces members and provide security for AMC assets at locations and air fields that don't have adequate security. Once the aircraft lands in that particular area, the Ravens provide force protection for the aircraft and the aircrew. If they ever leave the aircraft in the air fields, they'll search it before the aircrews enter the aircraft, he added.

Both Duell and Shumate believe the combination of their military and civilian backgrounds, give Reserve cops an advantage in missions like these.

"It's awesome," said Duell, a Reservist since 1989. "Just dealing with personnel at my job gives me good verbal communication skills, because I deal with inmates all day long. Getting people to do things they don't want to do without them knowing it is a great skill, because that eliminates having to use physical force."

Shumate is a Port of Seattle police officer and bomb technician, who also values his Reserve and civilian law-enforcement training to apply to his Raven duties.

"As a Reservist and a civilian police officer, I go through a lot of training on both sides," said the 15-year Reservist. "You can work 12, 14, 16 or 18 hours. You have to be mentally and physically alert. You can do a three-day mission that ends up getting extended because of a broken aircraft or a mission changed. You can't always plan for what a mission says it needs. You always have to plan ahead. You have to be physically and mentally ready for those demands. It's an evolutionary-type of mission."

As his squadron's former Phoenix Raven Program manager, Shumate believes missions such as Cornet Oak provide good opportunities for Reserve cops.

"It's a real unique opportunity," he said. "We're going to places we'd otherwise never have an opportunity to. We're doing something that most cops don't do, but we get to do it in a different environment. What's cool about it is you are on your own, so you have to make the decisions on how you're gonna provide security for that aircraft. It also gives more exposure to what the big Air Force does and how we impact international-national relations. It's a nice career-enhancing step and pathway. It's more than just an EPR bullet."

Although being part of this unique team can be a career enhancer for a Reservist, it needs to mean more than that to the Airmen.

"It's not like you get a prize at the end of your shift," said Duell. "You have to want to go out there, knowing you're sometimes gonna work long hours, long days and sometimes it won't be rewarding. For cops, knowing that things are good for you means no one's crossed through the wire, the aircraft is still intact, and the personnel you're around are still safe. If everyone walks away, we all win."

photo: Master Sgt. Carlos Duell (standing), 446th Security Forces Squadron Phoenix Raven Program manager, provides cover while a security forces Airman secures a hostile during an operational readiness exercise at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Main, Feb. 15, 2012. Duell, who's been with the 446th Airlift Wing since 1989, has been on numerous missions which have taken him to more than 80 countries. He plans to participate in more Raven missions in March. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Jake Chappelle)

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