Base security goes green

Senior Airman Michael Faulkner and Airman 1st Class Mikael Rose mount up as they prepare to go on patrol as members of the 17th Security Forces Squadron’s newly formed bike patrol team May 2. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Luis Loza Gutierrez)

Senior Airman Michael Faulkner and Airman 1st Class Mikael Rose mount up as they prepare to go on patrol as members of the 17th Security Forces Squadron’s newly formed bike patrol team May 2. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Luis Loza Gutierrez)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Goodfellow Air Force Base's 17th Security Forces Squadron is going green. No, the squadron is not becoming part of the Army, although some people may think that's not too far-fetched, since Airmen in the security forces career field have a similar mission as their fellow "Green" brothers-in-arms.

No, "going green" for the Airmen of the 17 SFS has come to mean more like going on two wheels, because as of earlier this May that's exactly how many of them are getting around base thanks to the addition of the new 17 SFS bicycle patrol team.

"Goodfellow has the advantage of being a small base with an annual average of about 10 months of favorable weather and conditions for safe bicycle riding," said Maj. Hunter Sawders, 17 SFS commander. "Those two facts make it a luxury when you compare Goodfellow to other military installations. Using bicycles to do our patrols is our way of taking advantage of that luxury."

According to Capt. Brian Copper, 17 SFS operations officer, the new bicycle patrol team is a permanent addition to the unit. The squadron currently has a total of seven 24-speed mountain bicycles, equipped with front-shock absorption system, hybrid tires for easier handling around smooth surfaces like paved roads or rugged mountain trails. Four of the bicycles are classified as primary bikes while three are designated for training. The price tags for the bikes range between six to approximately $900 dollars (full equipped).

The 17 SFS was able to save cost on additional training thanks to Tech. Sgt. Kevin Boyce.

"Sergeant Boyce's background as a security forces member and competitive racer with the San Angelo Bicycle Association made him the ideal person to be the squadron's bicycle patrol training instructor," said Capt. Copper.

"We are confident that our new bicycle team now possesses the foundation necessary to safely and effectively operate the bicycles in order to accomplish their mission as bicycle patrolman," added the captain.

Capt. Copper identified a few other reasons for the creation of the bike patrol squad.

"The bikes will help our squadron keep with the Air Force's 'Fit to Fight' mentality because it will allow our Airmen to exercise while they do their patrols. The bike patrols will also help us conserve fuel, which in turn will help extend the life of our motorized vehicles, save money, and help the environment by lowering carbon emissions which create air pollution."

The idea to conduct patrols on bikes was not received with open arms by everyone at the 17 SFS, but that soon quickly changed as the pedals began to turn.

"At first I was hesitant about the idea, especially the part about wearing something other than my regular uniform, but I quickly changed my mind after riding around on these sweet-looking bikes and experienced how comfortable these new (bike patrol) uniforms are especially with the recent warm weather," said Senior Airman Michael Faulkner, 17 SFS bike patrolman.

"The handling on the bikes is smooth and we can maneuver around areas where a regular patrol car would not be able to travel," added Airman 1st Class Mikael Rose, who was on patrol with Airman Faulkner.

The 17 SFS isn't just getting positive feedback from its own Airmen, but other members of Team Goodfellow as well.

"I think the bicycle patrol is a brilliant addition to the base," said Kelly Bales, Goodfellow Environmental and Conservation Organization chairman.

"The addition of the bike patrol is a great example of how our Air Force supports the implementation of strategies that help accomplish the diverse mission of our service in ways that are healthier for both its people and the land we've sworn to defend. The bike patrol is a 'win-win' situation for both the Air Force and the environment," he added.