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NASSIG Security Forces Celebrate 49th Birthday, New Insignia Program

19 August 2022

From Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kegan E. Kay, Naval Air Station Sigonella Public Affairs Office

In addition to celebrating their 49th birthday, Naval Security Forces here at Naval Air Station Sigonella were provided the opportunity to be some of the first in the fleet to qualify for the new Navy Security Force Insignia, a qualification program 10 years in the making.
The U.S. Navy’s Master-at-Arms rate is not a new thing despite having only recently celebrated their 49th birthday on August 1, 2022.

According to Naval History and Heritage Command, the master-at-arms rating has been around since Charles I ruled England. The “sheriffs of the sea” were responsible for the maintaining of the weapons onboard the ship and had to be qualified in “close order fighting under arms” and be able to train their shipmates in “hand-to-hand combat.”

The Master-at-Arms rate was also one of the original eight chief petty officer ratings, yet in 1921 the rate was disestablished with the duties and responsibilities divided up and distributed as collateral duties to other ratings.

In 1942, the rate saw a comeback but rather than the name Master-at-Arms, they were called Specialists Shore Patrol and Security, before being changed to Shore Patrolman in 1948 and re-disestablished in 1953.
On August 1, 1973, the Master-at-Arms rate was reestablished and the date declared to be the official birthday of the rate.

Today, according to the career path rating description for Master-at-Arms, “MAs will individually, or as part of a force, be able to conduct Force Protection operations in order to defeat threats at sea, on shore, and in expeditionary environments. Force Protection is a program that comprises of three pillars: Antiterrorism, Physical Security and Law Enforcement. Specifically, the MA will conduct scalable force protection and security providing layered defense for designated assets and critical infrastructure throughout the world. Additionally, MAs will operate in an integrated at sea/coastal/landward security environment, providing mobile and fixed defensive operations in support of Commanders performing base defense, expeditionary/combat operations, strategic asset security, law enforcement, corrections, and special events and operations with other services, host nation partners, and civil authorities.”

In addition to celebrating their 49th birthday, Naval Security Forces here at Naval Air Station Sigonella were provided the opportunity to be some of the first in the fleet to qualify for the new Navy Security Force Insignia, a qualification program 10 years in the making.

The insignia is pin that can worn on the uniform similar to that of a diver insignia or “badge,” EOD, or Special Warfare, as the pin changes depending on the qualification level of apprentice, journeyman, master or officer skill level.

The qualification levels for the Navy Security Forces insignia are NSF Specialist, NSF Senior Specialist, NSF Master Specialist and NSF Officer.

“We are now trailblazing the efforts in making the Master-At-Arms community hold its own pride and heritage,” stated Master-at-Arms Senior Chief Peter Limson, designated executive agent for the NSF qualification program at NAS Sigonella. “The insignia program took 10 years to develop and was approved by 11 admirals consistent with our 11 mission platforms.”

The NSF qualification establishes performance standards that can be used to assist in the assignment, promotion and officer selection processes, and provides a visual recognition of the Sailor’s professional expertise.

The program is segmented into six phases. Phase One involved convening initial qualifiers and selection panel, reviewing and validating the qualification process, training, PQS completion, written testing, oral board composition and final selection processes.

Phase Two was the release of the qualification program to include the instruction and electronic PQS and initial qualifiers for NSF Officer and Master Specialist based on priority.

Phase Three and Phase Four, which are currently happening, involve achievement of a formal program compliance, initiating a force-wide training program for all levels, qualified NSF officer, master and senior specialist convened boards on all fully qualified candidates at all levels, establishing initial qualifiers from phases one and two as quality assurance and quality control monitors, qualifiers, and mentors and observe boards, award program qualification certificates and insignia and finally collect lessons learned and feedback for first program revision.

“The NSF pin is a long time coming,” said Lt. Nathan Ouellette, NAS Sigonella security officer, “Community leadership has worked very hard putting this together and it further professionalizes our Navy's Security Forces. There is a long history of the MA rate; a story of how it got here that is now being taught to the ranks along with the many platforms that we operate in. I truly wish we had something like this when I was enlisted.”

Phases Five and Six will not take place until November 2022 and will start with the formal program review based on the analytics from the first four phases.

The program is voluntary and each member wanting to qualify will be required to complete personnel qualification standards for designated insignia level, pass a written test and then complete an oral board in addition to pay grade specific prerequisites.

“Capt. Shoemaker is the first commanding officer to establish this program in our area of responsibility and the most proactive qualification program,” explained Limson about getting the program started on NAS Sigonella. “The program can't really be implemented without the command having a Security Officer and as such our Security Officer Lt. Ouellette, and Assistant Security Officer, Chief Warrant Officer Juan Skewes, provided guidance in establishing the PQS appropriate for NAS Sigonella specifics.”

On July 27, 2022, the first of NAS Sigonella’s security personnel sat down to take the written tests to qualify for the NSF insignia.

Personnel were required to pass a 50 question written exam with a minimum passing score of 80% to then be able to move on to the oral board.

After having completed and passed the test, the security personnel were then faced with an oral board where they had to demonstrate their knowledge while being asked questions from board members covering topics such as antiterrorism, physical security and law enforcement.

To date NAS Sigonella has 18 security personnel qualify for NSF Master Specialist and NSF Senior Specialist and nine now designated as the NAS Sigonella NSF Insignia Program Unit and Division Coordinators and assistants.

To celebrate this history making achievement, NAS Sigonella security forces held a cake cutting to celebrate their 49th birthday and a pinning ceremony for the new qualified personnel of the NSF insignia program, Aug. 5, 2022.

Congratulations to the newly qualified NSF Master Specialists: MACM Bryan Roelike, MACS Jonathan ColondresRamon, MACS Jonathon Walter, MACS Laymoun Ferguson, MAC Justin Zeise, MAC Anthony Crooks, MAC Dimitris Mack, MAC Christopher Coolahan, MAC Jordyn Japec, MAC Matthew Eybers, MAC Terry Draper and to NSF Senior Specialist: MA1 Stephen Barrette, MA1 Raul Hernandez, MA1 Eric Fowler, MA1 Nicolas Sterling, MA1 Ryan Gray and MA1 Gary DiMarzio.

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