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New commander for next-level Defenders

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt Noah J. Tancer
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

“To the men and women of the 910th Security Forces Squadron, from the day I set out to earn my commission, my goal was to become a security forces commander. Your superior performance is why I’ve been entrusted to lead this squadron. Thank you. I owe every single one of you a huge debt that I’m never going to be able to repay.”
–Capt. Robert Reader, commander of the 910th SFS

Reader took command of Youngstown Air Reserve Station’s Defenders on Feb. 4, 2023. Having served under the unit's former commander, Maj. Nicholas Megyesi, Reader has both witnessed and helped shape the 910th SFS’s development into an award-winning unit, earning the Air Force Reserve Command’s Air Reserve Component Security Forces Squadron of the Year award for 2021 and more than a dozen AFRC, 22nd Air Force and 910th Airlift Wing awards in 2021 and 2022.

“As far as I’ve seen, this unit leads the way,” said Reader. “We’re getting after all the hard, realistic training that the Air Force Reserve Chief pushed out. All of those things that build stress inoculation that makes not only resilient Airmen but resilient mission-capable Airmen.”

Reader doesn’t plan to stop or slow the momentum under his watch.

“The goal is to try to get them to a level of performance that’d maximize what their capabilities are,” said Reader. “Take what we already got, what we’ve already built on, and just make it that much better.”

Air Force Defenders interact and train with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies; protect base weapons, ammunition, property and personnel from hostile forces; track drone flights in the local area and perform investigations.

While deployed, fireteam members repel threats within the base security zone, patrol outside the wire and operate counter UAV systems and can be involved in enemy detainee operations.

“The focus will be to develop Defenders who can not only execute their assigned duties but do

so reliably in a high-stress environment in opposition of a rapidly evolving and capable threat,” said Reader. “Defenders will need to be well-informed of their area of operation and stay attuned to local conditions as future operating environments will likely not be so simply defined and could contain a mix of threat actors.”

The Air Force has shifted its training from counter-terrorism to the potential peer or near-peer fight of tomorrow. Defenders will continue to be primarily responsible for guarding Airpower assets, as they have in the past, but are now being trained to operate outside the gate to secure and establish airfields in austere locations.

“The end state that we're trying to get to is that our Defenders aren’t just programmed to follow a checklist, because, at the end of the day, you don’t know what the threat environment is going to look like,” said Reader. “When we talk about degraded operations or a highly-contested environment, the Defenders that we are building, or building on, will be just that more potent and capable.”

Defenders must be well-versed in the integrated defense risk management process and need to understand the military decision-making process to operate in a joint/coalition environment. The 910th SFS achieves this through routine participation in exercises to test capabilities against potential next-threat scenarios to help focus future training evolutions.

With COVID behind them and easing budget constraints, Reader is looking to give his Airmen the training they’ll need to succeed and the level of attention and support his predecessor dreamed of.

“With the personnel as the 99 percent solution, it doesn’t matter the equipment,” said Reader. “If you give a solid set of performers subpar equipment, they’ll find ways to get the mission done and taken care of, but what we hope to do throughout the next couple of years is provide our high caliber Defenders with top-notch equipment.”

According to Reader, Youngstown ARS’s Defenders will be provided increased opportunities for advanced training to assure the 910th AW can deploy, train and develop even as new local threats emerge. The full-time force will be growing and will soon include an organic ground intelligence capability plus dedicated personnel to support training, logistics and base defense planning.

As a small Air Force Reserve installation in rural northeast Ohio, YARS has sometimes been called the best-guarded cornfield in the state. Yet as combat-ready Defenders are being built all over the U.S., YARS is helping to lead the way.