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Behind the Lines: Elite Guard Robins first defense | News

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Behind the Lines: Elite Guard Robins first defense
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Always vigilant and always ready.

The Robins Air Force Base Elite Guard stands between the base gates and potential threats. 13WMAZ went "Behind the Lines" to see how they thwart attacks and handle controversies directed at their duties.

Before dawn or until after dusk, the two-dozen elite guard members stand on the lookout. Their antennas are attuned to anything out of the ordinary.

"If a driver is doing anything suspicious or doesn't belong here," Sgt. John Duffin said.

They intercept the constant flow of cars, about 6,000 a day, with warm welcomes.

"It wasn't always that way." Airman Bradley Taylor said, "I wouldn't say they were the friendliest people."

The gate guards came under fire a few years ago for appearing unapproachable and unprofessional.

"It took too long," Duffin said. "They were late to work

A year ago, the guard revamped, retrained and opened more lanes during peak times. They also started short shifts; 6.5 hours instead of eight.

That keeps the guards more comfortable in the Warner Robins heat, and helps them keep their composure with people in their cars.

They're more friendly now, even accused of taking their greetings too far. They often say, "Have a blessed day", to incoming drivers.

"We didn't mean it any religious way," Airman Maria Valencia-Ruiz said. "We just meant it as a nice greeting. We want you guys to have a blessed day."

A religious freedom group complained. Higher-ups told the guards to stop saying it. Then, they reversed that decision, so many of the guards returned to using the "blessed day" greeting.

"We set the tempo for how their day is gonna go," Airman Taylor said.

They see their welcomes as just a level below security in importance.

"A lot of people come on base and don't realize they wouldn't be able to work on base, if there weren't people up here protecting them," Taylor said.

They operate with full knowledge that they would be the first target in an attack.

"I'm not scared to be out here," Valencia-Ruiz said. "I'm not scared to protect the base."

They stand ready for what each arrival may bring, whether that requires a gun or a greeting. Gate security levels are currently heightened at Bravo, which is two steps up from normal, the lowest level. That can mean slightly longer waits at Robins three main entry gates.


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