Kirtland Operations Officer Presented the Bronze Star Medal
4/17/2014 – KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. — A Kirtland officer received the Bronze Star Medal in a ceremony at the base theater April 16.
Capt. George Hern, operations officer in the 377th Weapon Systems Security Squadron, was recognized for his counterinsurgency efforts while deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, from December 2012 to June 2013.
Hern said much of his success was due to his efforts in building relationships of trust with members of communities near the base. He said he implemented a unique outside-the-wire patrolling mission that employed community vigilance and joint patrols with Afghan National Police officers.
“We empowered the people to police their own communities, and empowered the police to help the communities,” he said. “It was basic security forces ‘cop’ work. It was helping people take pride in their community and working toward keeping the Taliban out.”
Hern said they spent hours interacting with the community and building relationships of trust, which paid huge dividends and made a big difference from previous methods. He conducted dozens of key leader engagements with Afghan National Police commanders, which resulted stronger relationships and better security. Under his direction, Air Force units teamed with the local police force in 1,200 joint patrols and 600 village engagements.
“It was a real amazing experience,” Hern said. “I don’t think I’ll ever have another opportunity in my lifetime to do anything like that again. It was the type of experience you imagine having when you are a young boy dreaming of joining the military.”
According to his award citation, he conducted more than 2,000 outside-the-wire combat missions, securing a 172-square-mile base security zone. He also led a successful 70-person joint United States and Afghan raid on two insurgent compounds, resulting in the capture of two known insurgents and the disruption of a prominent improvised explosive device facilitation cell.
The medal was presented to Hern by Col. Tom Miller, 377th Air Base Wing commander.
by Kendahl Johnson
377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
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