A bizarre incident at a US Air Force Base in Texas involving an individual breaching base security in a teddy bear costume has resulted in more questions than answers.
The curious case surrounds a video depicting an unknown person in a teddy bear costume running up to the gate at Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, crossing over the base’s demarcation line and taunting security teams before making a run for it.
The video depicts a security officer chasing down the teddy terror, eventually tackling him and sending stuffing flying through the air.
While the fact that the video was shot from both sides of the security guard shack indicates that it may have been a simple prank video done by USAF security personnel, Sheppard’s 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs team gave conflicting and confusing responses to inquiries concerning the incident.
Although the incident was quickly and vaguely categorized as a “training exercise,” Sheppard AFB Director of Public Affairs George Woodward released an odd statement on the matter:
“Like most of you, I had a good laugh at the video posted here yesterday of the big yellow bear at Sheppard’s main gate. It’s hilarious.
It’s also, believe it or not, deadly serious. Think about what we ask of our military and civilian Security Forces Airmen. They spend long hours in the heat of the day and the dark of night defending our bases. We expect them to be aware and ready every moment to respond to any imaginable situation, and possibly make a split-second, life-and-death decision on the use of force.
Now, you might say, “Come on! A terrorist is not going to attack the base dressed in a big yellow bear suit…”
Of course not.
What is much more plausible -and there is precedent for it- is that someone in a dark place might decide that a young, armed law enforcement officer is a permanent solution to their troubles. Unlikely? Sure. But that’s the point; we expect these Airmen to make flawless, nearly instantaneous decisions in difficult, unlikely, and even bizarre circumstances. We teach them how to do that through training and, sometimes, admittedly unusual flight-level exercises.
So absolutely, laugh- it’s funny! But the next time you pass that Security Forces Airman at the gate, think about the heavy responsibility that comes with that job and those weapons. There’s nothing funny about that.”
Further attempts to clarify Woodward’s statement resulted in little to no cooperation from Christopher Carranza* of 82 TRW Public Affairs, who simply noted that the statement released was “the official statement approved by our Chief of Public Affairs.”
So what was it? Was it a training exercise? A leaked prank turned into a training exercise in order to save face? If so, what was the point of the Chief of Public Affairs going on a virtue-signaling tangent about committing “suicide by cop?”
When it comes to the Texas Teddy Terror Incident of 2018, the truth is out there- but the world may never know.
Woodward assured us the incident was a training exercise with safety protocols in place.
“This was a tactical, flight-level exercise. While we don’t release the details of exercise outcomes, the purpose was to exercise and test how Airmen at the gate respond to unusual situations. As with all exercises, there were monitors present and ground rules established for the conduct of the exercise to ensure the safety of all concerned,” he wrote. “This is particularly critical given that our security forces Airmen may be armed.”
*This article incorrectly referred to him as a Tech Sergeant; he is a civilian
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