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Defenders of deterrence 24/7/365

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jessica McConnell
  • Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
While most Airmen and their families enjoy down days and holidays together, there are those few without such luxuries. With missile sites scattered throughout the fields of North Dakota, the Air Force relies on a special team of Airmen to ensure this mission of deterrence remains unhindered every second of every day of the year.

This team of silent warriors includes missileers, facility managers, on-site chefs, maintainers, convoy operations and security response force members.

Security forces Airmen tasked to the missile sites have an important yet discreet job - to protect this nation's source of nuclear deterrence and protect the lives of everyone living in this country without their even knowing it.

"We provide response and security to major resources and complexes," said Senior Airman Devin Gorsage, 91st Missile Security Forces Squadron response force leader. "We work 12 hour shifts with some days on and some days off over a several day cycle."

While safeguarding the nation's most valuable weapons system, security forces members are responsible for remaining competent, vigilant and properly trained. With this responsibility come many duties to accomplish during each tour.

"Aside from checking the sites, we have to practice random anti-terrorism measures where we complete random security checks to reinforce deterrence and security presence," said Gorsage.

Also, security forces members complete recapture/recovery exercises on a regular basis. Recapture/recovery is perhaps the main function of security forces.

"We'll normally get called out to a site for an exercise that involves responding to a scenario involving a team attempting to steal a missile," said Gorsage. "Recapture/recovery exercises can also involve protesters, in which case members are charged to remove protesters from said site using appropriate force based on resistance."

During the winter, security forces members can also expect to take many trips out to the sites when an alarm goes off.

"There are many different reasons an alarm can be triggered," said Gorsage. "Security forces are dispatched from the missile alert facility to the site in question. Members are vigilant in their response, fully armed. The goal is to ensure no one is out there. They also have to wait until the alarms reset before they can leave."

While the missile sites are a security priority, members remain vigilant even while staying at the missile alert facility.

"We perform exercises to test our ability to respond to internal threats," said Gorsage. "Internal threats can occur when a member on the inside uses force against others inside the alert facility. We have certain procedures for such instances and practice them regularly."

While the job can be difficult, members realize the ways to cope and remain resilient.

"It can be really detailed with the amount of information to know," said Airman 1st Class Cassandra Nicholson, 91st MSFS response force member. "But, it really isn't that bad. The worst part of this job is the winter."

"People are what get you through the tours," said Nicholson. "Being with people you know really helps. Leadership usually posts us with people we know. We talk to each other a lot to make time pass. We also bring game consoles and books with us for our off duty time. The facilities are also really nice. They have computers, television, a fitness center and billiards."

These men and women are ready and prepared to defend and uphold the mission of the 91st Missile Wing at all hours of every day. The job does not stop. It doesn't close down for holidays or down days. This country and its allies can sleep soundly at night as long as these defenders are around - that's the business of nuclear deterrence, and business has been good since 1971.