Team MacDill tests the best for Phoenix Raven

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Scott Warner
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

The Phoenix Raven program, established in February 1997, consists of elite security forces members charged with providing security for Air Mobility Command aircraft anywhere, anytime.

MacDill is one of six AMC bases that enables the Phoenix Raven mission.

“We have to be able to respond anytime that AMC gives us that call,” said Tech. Sgt. George Glover, 6th Security Forces Squadron Raven program manager. “We were there after we got the call that Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico--and will keep being anywhere at any time we are needed."

"We ensure rapid global mobility by training hard and always being prepared.”

Regardless of base, every Raven must complete a rigorous three-week Phoenix Raven Qualification Course at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

Once trained, Ravens maintain a robust skillset -- they are the experts in combatives, contingency response, airfield landing assessments, security and intelligence.

Becoming a MacDill Phoenix Raven candidate

MacDill’s 6th SFS goes above and beyond in preparing potential Ravens for the official course by hosting their own three-week training program, testing resiliency and instilling confidence in candidates.

To be eligible, a candidate must keep their physical fitness test score above 90 percent, however a high score doesn’t make the training easy.

“Going through Raven training, whether here or at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, was extremely difficult,” said Senior Airman Nathan Ouellette, a 6th SFS Phoenix Raven trainer. “Ravens need to have resiliency and heart because if you are not mentally ready, it won’t matter how good of physical shape you are in.”

Resiliency measures one’s capacity to recover quickly from difficult situations, but it’s more than just a mental and physical toughness.

“We can teach someone to be stronger and can get someone to run faster, but it’s up to the candidate to have that will to continue to press forward even when they are physically exhausted and have nothing left in the tank,” said Glover.

One thing is for certain, MacDill’s Phoenix Raven preparation course was designed to make the fainthearted quit.

“In our current class, we started with five candidates and now we are down to just one candidate,” said Glover. “It’s part of the process and the culture we establish here from the tryouts, to the selection process, and the outcome of our efforts normally translates well when our candidates go to the official course.”

Despite how strenuous the tryouts at MacDill may be, when a candidate undergoes the official evaluation, MacDill has a history of success.

“For the last eight years, MacDill Air Force Base holds a zero percent wash out rate [at JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst],” said Glover.

Some of the tasks candidates encounter are daily workouts, verbal judo, and a “RedMan” combat scenario where Raven trainers wear protective full-body armor as candidates perform evasive maneuvers and effective baton strikes.

From the demanding physical conditioning to the mental fatigue, the course tests resiliency in many ways and proves nothing that is worth having comes easy.

“I wanted to become a Raven because it was challenging,” said said Airman 1st Class Quon Green, an entry controller from the 6th SFS and the last remaining Phoenix Raven candidate in the current MacDill AFB course. “No matter how hard it gets, I have to remind myself to not give up because I wanted this opportunity to better myself.”

Only a select few can say they overcame the challenges it takes to become a Raven and MacDill’s dedication to training candidates ensures they are ready to carry out the mission when called upon.