ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Counterintelligence, computer hacking and espionage aren’t just thrilling plot points for fictional spy novels or TV shows.
These are true-to-life national security matters that keep Airmen busy in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.
“Protecting the Air Force’s interests is a big part of the job,” said Jordan Rodrigues, AFOSI Detachment 105 commander. “People think this is a small community; nothing like that happens here. But yes, it does.
“This base is a microcosm of the world because we have people from all corners working and living on base as well as in the community outside the gates,” he continued. “Adversaries are working around the clock trying to obtain our secrets or attack us, so we have to be just as vigilant to stop them.”
Besides thwarting cyber and terroristic threats, AFOSI special agents work a wide range of serious offenses on the installation, violence against people, larceny, drug use or any other illegal activity that undermines the mission of the Air Force or the Department of Defense.
“On some occasions we will work jointly with the 78th Security Forces Squadron to conduct investigations on base,” said Richard Haskett III, AFOSI Detachment 105 special agent. “But we are separate entities and the severity of the crime dictates which department will handle a case.”
According to Haskett, 78th SFS handles misdemeanor crimes while AFOSI is responsible for felony level incidents. Those are offenses that would involve imprisonment of a year or more under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or the United States criminal code.
“For instance, if there was a domestic violence case where a victim had minor cuts or bruises, Airmen with security forces would oversee it. However, a situation where an individual is brutally beaten or even murdered would fall under OSI jurisdiction,” he said.
AFOSI members are also authorized to conduct off base investigations if Airmen are involved in illegal matters such as selling or buying drugs.
“In those types of situations, we would enlist the help of the local law enforcement where the crime takes place,” said Haskett.
All AFOSI special agents are skilled at crime scene processing, weapons use, forensics, surveillance and surveillance detection, defensive tactics, interrogation and anti-terrorism techniques.
They are trained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. This is the same training academy for federal agents with the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
After graduation, new OSI special agents spend a one-year probationary period in the field.
At this point, Haskett has three months left in the probationary period. He joined Team Robins in January and is excited about what’s to come.
“I did six years in security forces and retrained for OSI,” said Haskett. “When I entered the Air Force, OSI was always my main goal. Nothing beats having tools at your disposal to help make sure the best information will make its way to court. It is also a good feeling when I can be of help to people I’m meeting on perhaps the worse day of their lives.”
Also housed in the AFOSI building at Robins is the Office of Procurement Fraud.
Special agents in this section are responsible for investigating large scale “white collar” crimes affecting Air Force and Department of Defense contracts, programs or weapons systems.
“We look into anonymous tips where someone might believe a contractor or military personnel is trying to cheat the government,” said Rodrigues. “The fraud could be delivering counterfeit electronic components, overcharging, or not providing contractually required services.”
The AFOSI main website states the agency recovers millions of dollars every year in fraud related cases.
For the past two years Rodrigues has led the AFOSI team at Robins, and he wants the public to know his Airmen are here to help and not hurt.
“Some people see us as the enemy or that we are just out to get people in trouble and that’s not true,” he said. “People come to us with concerns, and it is our job to ask questions and get answers that will hopefully lead to the truth. Our duty is to protect the Air Force from all enemies foreign and domestic.”