Air Mobility Command's PHOENIX RAVEN program, implemented in 1997, consists of teams of specially trained security forces personnel dedicated to providing security for Air Mobility Command aircraft transiting high terrorist and criminal threat areas.
The PHOENIX RAVEN program ensures an acceptable 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 Threat Working Group. The RAVEN teams help detect, deter and counter threats to AMC aircraft by performing close-in aircraft security; advising aircrews on force protection measures; conducting airfield assessments; and assisting aircrews in the performance of their duties when not performing their primary security duties. PHOENIX RAVEN teams work on all types of AMC airlift missions including theater support missions, contingencies, exercises and deployments. Other 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 sent a select number of security force members to AMC's PHOENIX RAVEN training course. In addition to those missions specifically identified by the AMC/TWG, wing commanders may also direct PHOENIX RAVEN teams to accompany home-station airlift and tanker missions. Ultimately, however, a PHOENIX RAVEN team on an airlift mission are assigned aircrew members and report to the aircraft commander.
The Headquarters AMC/A7F Chief, Security Forces, is the focal point for all PHOENIX RAVEN operations supporting AMC airlift operations. On behalf of AMC/A7F, 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/A7F Contingency Branch coordinates with other major commands and Air Reserve Component Security Forces to ensure RAVEN-trained personnel are available at overseas en route locations to support AMC missions unexpectedly diverted.
AMC has more than 200, active-duty RAVEN-trained security forces members assigned at major AMC bases nationwide. Besides 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 Fort Dix, N.J. The intensive two-week, 12-hour-a-day course covers such subjects as cross-cultural awareness, 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 through the use of role players. Training includes instruction and realistic practical exercises in Verbal Judo, Defensive Tactics, Armament Systems and Procedures Baton training, and advanced firearms training. As a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, PHOENIX RAVEN candidates are instructed on anti-hijacking duty in cooperation with the Federal Air Marshal program. Utilizing 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. PHOENIX RAVEN training is designed to provide security forces members with the skills required for their unique mission and builds on the basic security force skills taught at the Security Forces Academy at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.
After course completion, unit program managers sustain a high level of preparedness for the RAVENS through intense physical training, realistic use-of-force scenarios, plus written and practical evaluations. Additional courses in geographic/cultural orientation offered by the Air Force Special Operations Command are provided to increase members' awareness of cultural areas they frequently transit on missions. Combat survival and additional aircrew-specific training have been recently added to meet theater aircrew requirements.
The first RAVENS graduated in February 1997. Since then, more than 1,200 Air Force security forces have graduated from the PHOENIX RAVEN Course. Graduates from the course also include members of the Army, Navy, 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, Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet and Defense Attaché Office, 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/A7F Security Forces Operations Division have been awarded the Air Force's Outstanding Intelligence Contributor Award.
(Current as of June 2007)