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New gate guards get new uniforms

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Tracy McDaniel, Department of the Air Force Security Forces civilian guard, checks a base commuter's ID before waving him on. The newly hired DAFSF guards received new uniforms similar to the LAPD uniform as part of an Air Force-wide initiative. This initiative requires gate guards to have advanced training with weapons, rigorous evaluations of mental and physical fitness as well as  at least one year of law enforcement experience. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman Anthony Jennings)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Tracy McDaniel, Department of the Air Force Security Forces civilian guard, checks a base commuter's ID before waving him on. The newly hired DAFSF guards received new uniforms similar to the LAPD uniform as part of an Air Force-wide initiative. This initiative requires gate guards to have advanced training with weapons, rigorous evaluations of mental and physical fitness as well as at least one year of law enforcement experience. (Air Force photo by Airman Anthony Jennings)

ELGIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Julia Cantrell, Department of the Air Force Security Forces civilian guard, checks a base commuter's ID before waving him on. The newly hired DAFSF guards received new uniforms similar to the Los Angeles Police Department uniform as part of an Air Force-wide initiative. This initiative requires all civilian gate guards to have advanced training with weapons, rigorous evaluations of mental and physical fitness as well as  at least one year of law enforcement experience. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman Anthony Jennings)

ELGIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Julia Cantrell, Department of the Air Force Security Forces civilian guard, checks a base commuter's ID before waving him on. The newly hired DAFSF guards received new uniforms similar to the Los Angeles Police Department uniform as part of an Air Force-wide initiative. This initiative requires all civilian gate guards to have advanced training with weapons, rigorous evaluations of mental and physical fitness as well as at least one year of law enforcement experience. (Air Force photo by Airman Anthony Jennings)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The "thin blue line" refers to the role of civilian police officers protecting society. As many commuters traveling on and off base may have noticed Eglin gate guard now resemble those "boys in blue." 

The new uniforms are just one of the many initiatives taking place to strengthen the Air Force's "thin blue line." 

"Although the BDUs (battle dress uniforms) were a traditional and tested uniform, we're excited to have our civilian gate guards in a newer, polished and professional image," said Maj. Scott Foley, 96th Security Forces Squadron commander. 

In the past, Department of the Air Force guards were often mistaken for military members due to wearing BDUs similar to traditional military. The new uniform is a standard law enforcement uniform that civilian police officers wear. 

"The color might look black but it's actually a LAPD Blue," said Lt. Roger Main, DAF Security Forces, referring to the color matching that of Los Angeles police. 

The Department of the Air Force Security Forces Center recently provided new standards for the civilian guards and is now implementing those changes. Currently, there are two sets of civilian gate guards, the DAF and the DAFSF guards. By 2010, all DAF guards will have transitioned under DAFSF. 

DAFSF civilian guards are a part of the 96th SFS while the BDU wearing guards are still DAF employees. 

The newly hired DAFSF civilian guards not only have a different look, they also have more advanced training and have undergone rigorous evaluations of mental and physical fitness, ensuring they are the best qualified. They also must have at least one year of law enforcement experience. 

Eventually all transitioning DAF civilian guards will receive this training as well as the new uniforms. 

"These aren't regular people guarding our base," said Lieutenant Main. "These are highly trained professionals who are selected from the most qualified." 

The Veteran's Affairs Federal Law Enforcement Training Course in Little Rock, Ark., dispatched a mobile training unit here to train more than 30 of the new guards. The DAF gate guards are required to receive the new uniforms and Air Force training by 2010. 

"Eglin is unique in this Air Force-wide initiative because we are the benchmark base," said Lieutenant Main. "We're one of the first to meet the new standards." 

As part of the new changes and regulations, the newly hired DAFSF civilian gate guards will no longer render salutes all other uniformed personnel will. 

Though the look of the DAFSF civilian guards has changed, their responsibilities haven't. The changes implemented to the Air Force's thin blue line ensures Eglin and the rest of the Air Force is protected.

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