JACKSON, Miss. – The 172nd Resource Protection Team, a group of volunteers from various career fields and backgrounds from the 172nd Airlift Wing, conducted annual firearms training and qualification at the Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport in December.
The 172nd RPT augments the 172nd Security Forces Squadron in protecting the aircraft, infrastructure and Airmen that keep that mission going.
“We’re a mixture of full-time members who can promptly support and defend the 172nd in contested environments or backfill deployed defenses as security forces augmentees,” said Senior Master Sgt. Shadford Herron, 172nd Aerospace Ground Equipment superintendent and 172nd RPT noncommissioned officer-in-charge.
The RPT NCOIC is responsible for the training of each team member.
“We’ve got three squads that receive a lot of training,” Herron said. “Things like annual M18 pistol and M4 rifle qualifications, clearing rooms and buildings for active shooter scenarios, protecting various resources like base infrastructure and aircraft, annual use of force and application training, baton training and more.”
Much of the training is administered by members of the 172nd Security Forces Squadron, putting into practice the multi-capable Airman philosophy of developing members into more lethal, well-rounded warfighters.
“They’re probably one of my favorite groups to work with because they’re so eager to learn and really enjoy the training,” said Tech. Sgt. Liana Bennett, a weapons instructor with the 172nd Security Forces Squadron. “We have the RPT to back us up; they are invaluable to us. We really do depend on them.”
It takes a certain kind of Airman to step into the role of an RPT volunteer.
“You want someone who’s full-time and who will answer the call if needed,” said 1st Lt. Chris Murray, 172nd aircraft maintenance officer and RPT officer in charge. “We’ve never been called upon, but we stay sharp; it’s best to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”
The 172nd RPT spreads many trained team members across the base and draws Airmen from various careers and backgrounds together.
“You’re going to make friends in your squadron or your section,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Moore, a communications/navigation avionics specialist with the 172nd Maintenance Squadron and 172nd RPT member. “But how often do you really get to work with other people from other parts of the base?”
Moore said the 172nd RPT is like a cross-section of the 172nd Airlift Wing.
“It gives every member a chance to be a part of protecting the base,” said Moore. “It’s good to know I have so many people backing me up.”
Herron called the 172nd Resource Protection Team the 172nd Airlift Wing’s “best-kept secret.”
“We don’t do it for glory,” said Herron. “It’s an awesome responsibility to be able to serve behind the scenes and to know that there are members intertwined among us from multiple organizations on base who are trained and equipped to meet a threat when called upon.”