AFSFC reaches final phase of fielding Model Defender gear

  • Published
  • By Debbie Aragon
  • Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public Affairs

A four-year initiative to modernize the day-to-day equipment of active-duty Air Force security forces defenders reached its fifth and final phase recently with the award of a $39 million contract for state-of-the-art defender gear.In addition to securing the contract award through the Air Force Installation Contracting Center’s 773rd Enterprise Sourcing Squadron, the Air Force Security Forces Center worked with Air Force Materiel Command logisticians to get the equipment into the Logistics Readiness Inventory Control System.    

“Because of this effort, not only will it be easier to account for equipment, defenders will now be able to move from one installation to another with their Model Defender Individual Equipment Kit under the Gear for Life program,” said Master Sgt. Derek Walton, AFSFC Model Defender and Gear for Life program manager. “This means they will no longer need to have that equipment issued at each installation as they progress in their careers.”

At the direction of Air Force Security Forces, the Model Defender initiative began in June 2020 with a focus on standardizing must-have daily gear for every defender in the Department of the Air Force.   

“The establishment of the Model Defender Individual Equipment Kit was crucial as it standardized gear across the Air Force security forces enterprise enhancing operational efficiency, ensuring the safety and professional appearance of personnel and fostering modernization within the Total Force,” said Dennis Rodriguez, AFSFC individual protective equipment branch chief. 

AFSFC started the new initiative by developing a standardized equipment list of 23 items which was then coordinated, amended and approved through major commands and security forces headquarters. This resulted in a final Model Defender Individual Equipment Kit.

Working with industry and Air Force contracting partners, the center then conducted phase 1 testing of state-of-the-art equipment using active-duty, National Guard Bureau and Air Force Reserve Command defenders in the San Antonio area. 

“This collaborative effort with industry partners for phase 1 testing also streamlined the acquisition process, ensuring that all security forces are well equipped and ready for their duties,” Rodriguez said. 

Based on testing results, AFSFC continued to phase 2 for expanded day-to-day testing at eight installations across four major commands, and phase 3 where the center consolidated and scrutinized collected data before presenting their findings to the Air Force Equipment and Weapons Configuration Board for validation.During both of these phases, AFSFC worked with AFICC’s contracting experts for an acquisition strategy that would move the purchase forward once decisions were made about what equipment was best for the defender force.   

“By conducting ongoing testing with the consolidation and analysis of test results, we were able to swiftly transition through the phases,” Rodriguez said. “This parallel processing allowed for immediate adjustments and expedited the validation and acquisition processes.”  

As a result, the equipment procurement plan was set to go immediately after the team confirmed the best equipment for the security forces enterprise, he added.  

Phase 4, the first purchase of Model Defender kit equipment took place May 2023 with Blue Force Gear and marked a significant milestone in the timeline. 

“Blue Force Gear developed a kit specifically to meet the needs of our security forces enterprise,” Walton said. “Their laser cut technology is cutting edge and integrates seamlessly with the body armor solution that was selected by the Air Force.”   

Upon receiving the initial small equipment purchase, the AFSFC team shifted focus to begin collaboration with Headquarters Air Force.

“The goal was to integrate the Model Defender items into the supply system through the Gear for Life initiative,” Rodriguez said. “Which was crucial for us to ensure the newly acquired equipment would be seamlessly incorporated into the broader system, enhancing the overall readiness and capability of the SF enterprise.”

“Our collaboration with headquarters was pivotal,” he added. “Integrating the Model Defender equipment into the Gear for Life initiative is not just a step, it’s a leap toward equipping defenders with the tools they need to face the future head-on.”

The final phase award was the career field’s largest purchase ever when the full contract of $39 million was awarded to Blue Force Gear in April.Equipment rollout to the field is expected to begin in December with full delivery to the field by early 2025. 

The finalized Model Defender kit consists of:   
- M-4 magazine pouches 
- M-18 magazine pouches   
- Dump pouches (for easily stowing a variety of items like empty magazines)   
- Holster adapters   
- Mollie belts (a webbed belt that allows gear to be attached in a variety of configurations)   
- Utility and handcuff pouches   
- Flashlight and baton pouches