Town patrol member leaves footprint upon departure
By Senior Airman Matthew Lancaster, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 01, 2014
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Before coming to Osan Air Base, people are often told stories about painting the town red at night in the Songtan Entertainment District.
A story that is less often told is that of the group of men and women who strive to keep service members safe and secure in the immediate area outside of the gates to include the Songtan Entertainment District --a group known as the 51st Security Forces Squadron Town Patrol.
The Town Patrol area of responsibility covers a span of three kilometers and in a single night, walking a continuous shift for 8 kilometers is not unreasonable.
"Our number one goal is protecting the troops, whether they are Airmen, Soldiers, Marines or Sailors," said Tech. Sgt. Jason Winkle, 51st SFS town patrol NCO in charge. "We always employ force protection tactics to ensure their safety in the environment downtown."
Winkle spent his entire year at Osan with the town patrol team. He felt satisfied knowing that the troops he led were able to make a lasting impact on our base and the local community.
"My favorite part about being at Osan was being able to go out and intertwine with different agencies - bringing everything together as a whole and being part of more than just security forces," Winkle said. "Having support and involvement by base leadership with any issues downtown was great, too."
Through Winkle's and the rest of the town patrol team's efforts, considerable milestones have been reached in the fight against human trafficking.
"Town Patrol influences a multi-government coalition between (the Republic of) Korea, the Philippines and the United States in a conjoined effort to combat human trafficking and prostitution," said Capt. Jordan Criss, 51st Mission Support Squadron executive officer. "It's extensionally influenced policy all the way back to the United States, and been mentioned at the White House and at the Presidential Summit."
During Winkle's time here, town patrol played a huge part in closing down establishments known as juicy bars and educating and protecting human rights. These bars are known to have customers buy drinks for the girls that work there or pay for a girl directly, much like a brothel, to "spend some time" with them. Town patrol inspected bars to ensure that they are a safe environment for service members. Doing this led to the closing of many of the juicy bars and significantly lowered the amount of human trafficking and prostitution happening around the Songtan Entertainment District.
In addition to closing down these bars, town patrol has changed the way they conduct their patrols to recover and strengthen bonds with the Good Neighbors in the ROK.
Now each individual patrol team consists of two 51st SFS members and one Korean Augmentee to the U.S. Army called a KATUSA, who serve as a liaison to any Korean-speaking person a team might encounter. U.S. Army military police tag along with town patrol teams on some occasions. In addition to the KATUSAs, town patrol members also work hand-in-hand with the Korean National Police, and on occasion, conduct training with other service's town patrol members.
"We ensure the safety of our public. We deter less than desirable actions from occurring in the Songtan Entertainment District through proactive measures and fostering a strong joint/coalition effort towards the mutual desired effects spanning USFK guidance and direction," Winkle said.
Winkle's tour ended July 1, but more defenders are always ready to step in and uphold the duty of town patrol - keeping troops safe and combating human trafficking and prostitution.