What it takes to be a TRF team member

Airman 1st Class Gerald Sanders, 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron, tries out for the base’s Tactical Response Force team May 12, 2016, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Airmen are evaluated in a two phase selection process consisting of a combat physical training test and an interview. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jaeda Tookes)

Airman 1st Class Gerald Sanders, 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron, tries out for the base’s Tactical Response Force team May 12, 2016, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Airmen are evaluated in a two phase selection process consisting of a combat physical training test and an interview. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jaeda Tookes)

Senior Airman Joseph Andersen, 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron tries out for the base’s Tactical Response Force team May 12, 2016, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Every quarter, security forces Airmen are given the chance to try out by completing a combat physical training test and an interview to be considered to be part of the elite nuclear missile deterrent force protection team. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jaeda Tookes)

Senior Airman Joseph Andersen, 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron tries out for the base’s Tactical Response Force team May 12, 2016, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Every quarter, security forces Airmen are given the chance to try out by completing a combat physical training test and an interview to be considered to be part of the elite nuclear missile deterrent force protection team. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jaeda Tookes)

Airman Cameren Miller and Airman 1st Class Cameron Hamilton, both assigned to the 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron, tryout for the base’s Tactical Response Force team May 12, 2016, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. TRF is an elite rapid response force which is constantly on alert to handle unique situations in the protection of nuclear assets. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jaeda Tookes)

Airman Cameren Miller and Airman 1st Class Cameron Hamilton, both assigned to the 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron, tryout for the base’s Tactical Response Force team May 12, 2016, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. TRF is an elite rapid response force which is constantly on alert to handle unique situations in the protection of nuclear assets. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jaeda Tookes)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- At Malmstrom, the first week of a new quarter is a busy time for the 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron's Tactical Response Force.

Every quarter, defenders are given the chance to try out for the base's TRF team.

"TRF is a rapid response force," said Staff Sgt. Bradley Akers, 741st MSFS NCO in charge of training. "The team is constantly on alert to handle situations in the missile field, at the (weapons storage area), in convoys and in active shooter situations."

"We are currently in the process of conducting TRF orientation," he continued. "It is a two-phase selection process, consisting of a combat physical training test and an interview."

The combat physical training test determines an Airman's potential to be considered to be part of the specialized nuclear missile deterrent force protection team.

Individuals must complete a series of physical feats wearing full battle gear including a vest, helmet and rifle.

In an 11-minute time frame, Airmen are assessed on their ability to execute a half-mile run, a 50-meter body drag of approximately 200 pounds, breaching a door using a ram, five dead-hang pull ups and a 15-meter rope climb.

According to Akers, completion is not necessarily mandatory. Evaluators also assess the individual's personality, performance, ability to overcome obstacles and reaction to failures.

Airmen who do not complete the physical test can still be chosen to continue into the next phase of tryouts.

For some, the interview process can help bridge that gap.

"For the interview, we are assessing the person as a whole," said Akers. "That means we look at (career development course scores), marksmanship, deployments, school as well as their personal life; what their hobbies are and what motivates them."

On average, less than 40 percent of Airmen who try out will advance to the next stage.

Of this quarter's 35 defenders who tried, 12 were selected to advance to the next level of evaluations.

"We select the best individuals who tried out to attend TRF orientation the following month," said Akers. "Orientation is a 15-day training course where all candidates will be tested to their limits physically, academically and tactically."

The standards set in the original selection process are elevated in the training course.

"Each member of TRF is hand-selected to become specially trained, highly motivated and tactically proficient security forces defenders," said Maj. Alexander D. Vanlear, 741st  MSFS commander. "The mission of TRF touches every facet of the wing; whether providing contingency response, rapid response to the WSA, flying airborne security missions with the 40th Helicopter Squadron, securing the topside of a launch facility or providing Nuclear Advanced Designated Marksmen for standoff security capabilities, the men and women of TRF are true professionals, wing integrators and mission enablers."

"You have to show that you can adapt to your resources," said Airman 1st Class Benjamin Cook, TRF member since February. "You have to be a good wingman by looking out for everyone, including yourself. You have to be able to demonstrate your leadership abilities at any given time, because you will be called upon to be a leader. You will get mentally and physically exhausted until you can't think straight and still be expected to be in top performance."

Those who don't meet the requirements, don't make the team.

"Generally, at this point, there will be a 30 to 40 percent wash out rate," said Akers.

For the Airmen who do meet all requirements and demonstrate their ability to be considered part of Malmstrom's rapid response force, TFR is a two to three-year commitment.

"Making the team was probably the best feeling I've had since being in the military," said Cook.  "I feel it is my biggest accomplishment so far to be TRF."

However, TRF can't defend the mission alone.

"TRF is only part of the 741st MSFS," said Akers. "It is only one part of the squadron, only one piece of the puzzle. Without all sections of the 741st, the mission would not be possible."

Cook's advice for those defenders who try out for TRF is simple.

"All you have to do is be motivated and be a leader. Never give up. Always be a team, it's everyone together or nothing at all," he said.