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Security Forces Defend Airmen, Nuclear Assets

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam 341st Missile Wing

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MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont., Sept. 1, 2017 — Fifteen missile alert facilities lie spread out over 13,800 square-miles in north central Montana -- structures that house missileers, chefs, facility managers and security forces airmen who operate, maintain and defend the facilities and 150 of the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Air Force Airman 1st Class Dillan Caceres, a response force leader with the 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron, mounts an M2B .50-caliber machine gun on his Humvee as he prepares for his shift in a missile alert facility near Belt, Mont., Aug. 28, 2017. Caceres and his team respond to alerts at intercontinental ballistic missile launch facilities to ensure the locations are secure. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam
Air Force Airman 1st Class Dillan Caceres, a response force leader with the 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron, mounts an M2B .50-caliber machine gun on his Humvee as he prepares for his shift in a missile alert facility near Belt, Mont., Aug. 28, 2017. Caceres and his team respond to alerts at intercontinental ballistic missile launch facilities to ensure the locations are secure. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam
Air Force Airman 1st Class Dillan Caceres, a response force leader with the 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron, mounts an M2B .50-caliber machine gun on his Humvee as he prepares for his shift in a missile alert facility near Belt, Mont., Aug. 28, 2017. Caceres and his team respond to alerts at intercontinental ballistic missile launch facilities to ensure the locations are secure. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam 170828-F-DB969-0061
Air Force Airman 1st Class Dillan Caceres, a response force leader with the 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron, mounts an M2B .50-caliber machine gun on his Humvee as he prepares for his shift in a missile alert facility near Belt, Mont., Aug. 28, 2017. Caceres and his team respond to alerts at intercontinental ballistic missile launch facilities to ensure the locations are secure. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam

Air Force Airman 1st Class Dillan Caceres, a response force leader with the 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron here, is one of the airmen whose duty takes him to the MAFs, to live for days at a time, sworn to protect some of America’s most valuable assets, to deter adversaries and allow the United States and its allies to sleep peacefully at night.

Caceres said his job is simple -- to be the first line of defense in the missile complex.

“My job is to deny unauthorized access to missile alert facilities and launch facilities, and to defend our assets,” he said.

Tour of Duty

Caceres’ first day of his tour in the missile field begins around 5:45 a.m. at the motor pool here, where he and other security forces airmen check out vehicles for their drive out to their assigned missile alert facilities. They inspect all of the vehicles ensuring they are ready to go, and account for all ammunition and weapons that will go on the journey with them.

The closest alert facility to Malmstrom is approximately 30 minutes away from base, while the furthest is nearly three hours. Today, Caceres and his team will make the shorter drive.

Once inside the concertina-wire-topped fence surrounding the facility, the defenders unload their equipment and conduct a changeover with other security forces airmen. During changeover, the new team receives a shift-change briefing, relieves the previous team of defenders and begins their shift.

“During our shift, we will perform perimeter checks along the fence line to make sure the fence is intact and that the warning signs around the area are visible,” Caceres said. “We will also respond to alerts at launch facilities to ensure the locations are safe and secure.”

Air Force Airman 1st Class Dillan Caceres, a response force leader with the 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron, performs a random antiterrorism check at a missile alert facility near Belt, Mont., Aug. 28, 2017. These checks provide additional security to missile alert and launch facilities. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam
Air Force Airman 1st Class Dillan Caceres, a response force leader with the 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron, performs a random antiterrorism check at a missile alert facility near Belt, Mont., Aug. 28, 2017. These checks provide additional security to missile alert and launch facilities. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam
Air Force Airman 1st Class Dillan Caceres, a response force leader with the 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron, performs a random antiterrorism check at a missile alert facility near Belt, Mont., Aug. 28, 2017. These checks provide additional security to missile alert and launch facilities. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam 170828-F-DB969-0127
Air Force Airman 1st Class Dillan Caceres, a response force leader with the 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron, performs a random antiterrorism check at a missile alert facility near Belt, Mont., Aug. 28, 2017. These checks provide additional security to missile alert and launch facilities. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam

Launch facilities are the locations where the ICBMs rest in the ground.

Other duties include checking vegetation around the launch facilities to prevent false alarms and security concerns and verifying all the lights and alarms are working properly.

“I like to be busy,” Caceres said. “It makes me feel like I am contributing and preventing any incidents from occurring.”

The Gatekeeper

Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Taku, a flight security controller with the 341st MSFS, works as a gatekeeper at the alert facility. The gatekeeper provides command and control in alarm and duress situations, is the last line of defense for the missileers and coordinates with other agencies to ensure the security of the nation’s assets.

Though the duty days sometimes extend to 16 or more hours, Taku said the time is not wasted.

“We work long hours in rain, hail and snow in the largest missile complex, and we don’t do this job for the fame or glory,” he said. “We do this because without our constant presence out here in the missile field, we leave our families, allies and nation vulnerable.”

“These are troubled and unpredictable times at home and around the world, but the one thing that is certain is nuclear security remains as strong as ever,” Taku said.
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