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90 at Nite: Security Forces

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jason Wiese
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

It is often said by those in the 90th Missile Wing that the nuclear deterrence mission allows Americans to sleep securely knowing that America's most powerful weapons are always on alert to deter our adversaries from aggression toward them.

Like all Americans, the Airmen who perform the mission, their families and wing assets need just as much protection through the night. For this reason, the 90th Security Forces Group has numerous organizations that never cease to protect the base's people and assets.

90th Security Forces Squadron Airmen perform the security mission within the base itself. Working 12-hour shifts, 90th SFS defenders perform different functions on a rotational basis. Some Airmen are law enforcement officers one night, entry controllers another night and then provide security for highly guarded areas on base another night. Where and when they work also depends on various certifications.

Senior Airman Raymond Cummins, 90th Security Forces Squadron Delta Flight, said nighttime is when things typically happen that require law enforcement intervention. Unfortunate as they may be, instances of domestic violence, people trying to enter the base without being identified by entry controllers, drunk driving and other mishaps occur mostly during the night shift.

Rather than lament the fact he has to deal with issues like these, Cummins said he feels like that is exactly what he signed up for -- to respond to those calls.

In addition to duties typically associated with security forces, defenders also need to be ready for other duties as first responders, said Senior Airman Elizabeth McPhee, 90th SFS Delta Flight.

"We really respond to everything," she said. "Medical situations are a big thing, and domestic situations are another one. We really put ourselves on the frontline."

Security forces are usually the first Airmen people encounter on base, so they must present a professional image, he said. Doing so deters any potential law-breaker because they know there will be Airmen to hold them accountable.

"I take a lot of pride in knowing we probably stop a lot of bad stuff from happening just by being out here every night," he said.

He said he also prides himself in knowing any adversary would meet first resistance from security forces.

"We're kind of the behind-the-scenes-people; when everyone else is asleep, we're making sure everyone's safe," McPhee said. "At nights, that's when people drink and party , especially on weekends, so we keep a close eye out for that to make sure we stop drinking and driving so it doesn't affect others. "

Proud as they may be of their work, night shift brings with it drowsiness, which defenders must combat to be 100% mission-effective, Cummins said. The most common way of staying alert for 90th SFS Airmen in any role is to talk to their wingmen.

"You really get to bond with people you work with," he said. "It's a lot tighter group at night because you're really depending on each other to keep each other up and keep each other alert."

It is just as important for defenders in the 90th Missile Security Forces Squadron, who defend F.E. Warren's missile complex, to remain vigilant, said Tech. Sgt. Brian Kelsey, 90th Missile Security Forces Squadron non-commissioned officer-in-charge of physical security.

Night shift missile cops spend days at a time in the field. When they are not out patrolling the missile field, conducting security checks or responding to alarms, they must work to stay motivated throughout the night, he said. Defenders do what many people might do -- they watch TV, play cards and, like the 90th SFS, talk with each other.

Often, 90th MSFS leadership will conduct nighttime exercises in the field, acting as opposing forces that the defenders must prevent from disrupting missile operations, he said. This also helps break the monotony.

Missile sites in the F.E. Warren missile complex have layers of security, including sensitive alarms that alert missile crews and security forces of potential break-ins to launch facilities and missile alert facilities.

Missile defenders physically check the site of virtually every tripped alarm, he said.

"It keeps the wolves at bay," he said. "It lets anyone out there who wants to test our security know our [Airmen] are out there responding, whether it's the light of day or dark of night."

The 90th SFG's nighttime activities are wide and encompass much more than the highly-visible entry controllers, law enforcement officers and missile defenders. Regardless of whether the defender is out on patrol, defending a maintenance team in the field or monitoring a security system, their role is all pointed toward the same goal.

"Our mission is always the same: to protect America's top assets," Kelsey said. "It strikes fear in our enemies' hearts that we have that destructive capability."