Unique vehicles aid Security Forces in patroling base

Senior Airman Jason Newsom and Staff Sgt. Bridget Skinner, 377th Security Forces Squadron installation patrolmen, circuit the perimeter of Kirtland Air Force Base in their Polaris RZR 900 EPS Razors. SFS Airmen patrol the Kirtland fence line in remote areas using Razor all-terrain vehicles. The terrain along the perimeter can get very steep, preventing normal vehicles from reaching certain spots. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Chandler Baker)

Senior Airman Jason Newsom and Staff Sgt. Bridget Skinner, 377th Security Forces Squadron installation patrolmen, circuit the perimeter of Kirtland Air Force Base in their Polaris RZR 900 EPS Razors. SFS Airmen patrol the Kirtland fence line in remote areas using Razor all-terrain vehicles. The terrain along the perimeter can get very steep, preventing normal vehicles from reaching certain spots. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Chandler Baker)

Senior Airman Jason Newsom, 377th Security Forces Squadron installation patrolman, stands with his Polaris RZR 900 EPS Razor at Kirtland March 21. SFS Airmen patrol the Kirtland fence line in remote areas using Razor all-terrain vehicles. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Chandler Baker)

Senior Airman Jason Newsom, 377th Security Forces Squadron installation patrolman, stands with his Polaris RZR 900 EPS Razor at Kirtland March 21. SFS Airmen patrol the Kirtland fence line in remote areas using Razor all-terrain vehicles. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Chandler Baker)

Staff Sgt. Bridget Skinner, left, and Senior Airman Jason Newsom check the Kirtland Air Force Base fence line in a remote area using one of the 377th Security Forces Squadron’s new Razor all-terrain vehicles. SFS conducts the patrols around the perimeter randomly each shift. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Chandler Baker)

Staff Sgt. Bridget Skinner, left, and Senior Airman Jason Newsom check the Kirtland Air Force Base fence line in a remote area using one of the 377th Security Forces Squadron’s new Razor all-terrain vehicles. SFS conducts the patrols around the perimeter randomly each shift. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Chandler Baker)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Kirtland Air Force Base is located in the heart of New Mexico, on the edge of the Sandia Mountain Range. Having the base in a location with such rugged terrain presents a unique security challenge.

The base perimeter extends into the Sandias, where it’s very difficult to drive a regular pickup truck, or even a Humvee, due to the steep, uneven terrain. But the 377th Security Forces Squadron has tackled that challenge head on by implementing a unique security measure. The unit uses small all-terrain vehicles – the Polaris RZR 900 EPS Side by Side – to reach parts of the perimeter not accessible by the regular patrol vehicles.

More commonly known as the Razor, the off-road vehicle packs 75 horsepower and has 11 inches of ground clearance. Being only 50 inches wide, it can fit through the tricky spots in the Sandias, and it can navigate steep paths with little to no trouble.

“We do these patrols to make sure the fence line is secure and make sure no one has come on to the base that shouldn’t be here,” said Senior Airman Jason Newsom, 377th SFS installation patrolman. “We check for any suspicious activity, like people walking around that look like they have no idea what they are doing, people who are lost, and hikers who may have gotten hurt.”

The Razors are new to Kirtland. It took two months to get the first group of Airmen trained with a classroom session, followed by practical application. They’ve been in use for a month now with much success. 

”Before we got the Razors, we were required to do perimeter checks where we drive around our installation and there’s certain portions we can’t reach with a regular vehicle, so we were limited to where our trucks could go,” said Tech. Sgt. Jason Belcher, 377th SFS NCO in charge of training. “It’s definitely more effective. We weren’t able to reach some of the areas before and now we can.”

SFS conducts the patrols at random during all shifts. The Airmen conducting the patrols relish the opportunity to try something different. 

“I really enjoy being out in the terrain,” Newsom said. “Looking around, seeing what the base has on it really intrigues me, so I enjoy it.