Maybe it was time to put up a blog site dedicated to the early days of training the first Emergency Service Teams. The history of the teams start with the T.N.T. (Tactical Neutralization Team) Teams. I am not sure how accurate my information really is; but the push to have SWAT teams in the Air Force started with a small cadre of Security Police Instructors who attended the Basic F.B.I. SWAT course, I believe led by a then TSgt Sexton (later Chief Sexton). They returned to Lackland AFB in Texas to plan, organize and implement policy and training doctrine that eventually led to the Emergency Service Teams becoming viable Special Operations Units tasked with high risk operations. There was an initial written policy covering how to equip, train and employ the T.N.T. teams; eventually an Air Force Regulation was written to change the name to Emergency Service Team including specific guidelines for employment of the teams. If my memory serves me correctly, the Lackland Team was also tasked with providing protection for the the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi when he was seeking medical treatment before his death. On 22 October 1979 President Jimmy Carter allowed the Shah to make a brief stopover in the United States to undergo medical treatment. I believe the tasking was called Operation Eagle. The instructor cadre, I believe also tested new and innovative tactics and equipment at the Security Police Academy, which led to a short lived concept of having a deployable EST team, they had a name but I can't remember specifically what they were called at that time.
From T.N.T. to E.S.T. the transformation was fast and non-stop and it started with this small cadre of Security Police at Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas. The initial training started at Camp Bullis and eventually was moved to Lackland AFB.
I want to have this blog document this history. If you were ever on an EST or TNT or was part of the initial planning cadre to start the training at Camp Bullis; then this blog is about you, for you and the men and women that made up the Emergency Service Teams of the United States Air Force Security Police/Security Forces, past and present.
Above: On the range qualifying our team snipers at Howard AFB, Panama
I, like many others before me and after... trained E.S.T.s for 15 years. My first experience with becoming aware with SWAT teams and Special Operation Forces was with my first assignment overseas. While stationed in Germany in 1977, I attended an F.B.I. SOAR's (Special Operations And Research) briefing on terrorism. In fact it was held during the week that the now famous and well known GSG-9 assault on Lufthansa airliner flight 181,that had been hijacked to Somalia.
It was during this briefing that we were introduced to then Col. Ulrich K. Wegener (Ret. Gen.), the founder of Germany's Special Operation Unit Grenzschutzgruppe 9 (GSG-9).
click on emblem above for more on GSG-9
Where he personally went over the mission in some detail without covering what was then considered "classified" information among the military attending the course.
This briefing initially sparked my interest in special operation units especially the concept of being a member of a military SWAT team.
After graduating from the Air Force E.S.T. course in Sept. 1980, I returned to Charleston AFB, S.C. to organize and train a new team. There were originally ten of us.
1st team trained under "Tactics For Emergency Service Teams Course" curriculum material, 1980, SSgt Roberto Bonefont, Sr., E.S.T. Field Supervisor. In this picture, our OIC, Capt Tompkins, our LE Training NCO, SSgt Flannery, who assisted and supported team training for the teams.
This picture above was one of the few training opportunities we had at Charleston AFB, we got support to meet quarterly to qualify and train in high risk operations. Back then, that was a blessing for training. So whenever we could, we trained.
Above: Charleston AFB E.S.T. practicing movement...
Above: Charleston AFB E.S.T. practicing lifts.
TASKED WITH A VARIETY OF MISSIONS - BELOW ARE SOME PICTURES OF ASSIGNMENTS THAT INCLUDED EVERYTHING FROM STATE DEPARTMENT PROTECTION TO PRESIDENTIAL PROTECTION, FROM AIRCRAFT ASSAULTS TO RIOT CONTROL OPERATIONS
Protecting, then Vice-President George Bush, notice the unique flashes on the berets, they were actually authorized for wear, by our then Base Commander, Colonel Neff, Mike Tsung was kind enough to remind me that they were authorized.
On the firing line, firing Uzi submachine guns, while training with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, State Department, Republic of Panama.
On the firing range at Howard AFB, Panama, putting new members through the paces, stress course of fire, etc.
Practicing riot control, EST's were used as apprehension teams.
Our field exercises were sometimes too realistic, plenty of two by heavies during this field exercise.
E.S.T. Training goes South!
As part of a Mobile Training Team (MTT) to Uruguay, we trained their Air Force GOE (Grupo de Operaciones Especial/Special Operations Group) on Tactics for Emergency Service Teams, the bilingual team was selected from various bases, the team was an all NCO team. The GOE, a select group of Air Force Infantry men and qualified airborne soldiers were strictly business and looking for added strategies to help combat the rise in criminal and terrorist activity in their country. We provided them with ample challenge and plenty of practice to get the job done. Photos below document that training.
Author Above with the E.S.T. Mobile Training Team in Uruguay training the Air Force GOE, visible team members, l to r: Author, TSgt Myles, SSgt Rivas, and MSgt Archbold.