QUANTICO, Virginia –
"Strengthening Partner Engagement" is one of the bedrock strategic lines of effort for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the value of which was showcased recently in the Lone Star State.
Twelve members of the AFOSI's 3rd Field Investigations Squadron, Specialized Surveillance Team, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, participated in advanced driver training hosted by state troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety Feb. 21-26.
The training was conducted at the DPS Tactical Training Facility in Florence, Texas, about a two-hour drive from San Antonio. It consisted of various dynamic driving courses of high and low-speed maneuvers, designed to enhance SST member skills and judgment behind the wheel at no cost to OSI.
“The Texas Department of Public Safety is the premier law enforcement agency in Texas, offering a world-class training program on Law Enforcement Education, that educates and trains recruits, troopers, agents and the Texas Rangers across the state,” said Lt. Col. James Merenda, 3rd FIS commander.
The Texas DPS also provides training for inter-agency programs with local, state and federal law enforcement partners.
“The advanced driver training is a result of the 3rd FIS/SST’s strong liaison efforts, where we meet Department of Defense, Department of Justice, state and local officials to discuss training exchanges and collaborations,” Merenda said.
This relationship has postured the3rd FIS/SST to participate in an upcoming collaborative training exchange with the DPS Criminal Investigations Division. During this training, SST will instruct DPS/CID agents and Texas Rangers in surveillance and counter-surveillance tactics, techniques and procedures.
This is the beginning of a long-term liaison relationship where OSI and DPS can benefit from each other’s subject matter expertise.
“The expectation is that all SST members will receive DPS driving, firearms, etc., training on a yearly basis, at no cost to OSI,” Merenda said. “In exchange, SST will provide surveillance training to various DPS units.”
Specialized Surveillance Team participants shared a few thoughts on how the DPS advanced driver training helps make them better OSI special agents:
“It highlights SST capabilities and limitations involving motor vehicles in different environments,” one agent said.
“It reinforces the understanding of this perishable, critical skill and how important it is to sustain it,” said another agent.
“Driving while conducting SST operations requires precision, focus, attention to detail, and 100 percent situational awareness. So, it’s imperative to the performance of SST in any environment to refresh these skills annually,” a third agent added.