MINOT, N.D. - There is no more important mission than missile field security in the U.S. Air Force, and the North Dakota National Guard's 219th Security Forces Squadron is making an ever-increasing, total force, contribution to that mission.
"Total force" is the U.S. Air Force term used for integrating Air National Guard, Reserve and active-duty components together for military missions being done throughout the World, and the work being done in the Minot Air Force Base, N.D., missile field complex is a great example of the total force concept. It is such a good example, in fact, that work being done there is being considered as a model to be used at other installations, according to Lt. Col. Tad Schauer, the 219th SFS commander.
The 219th SFS, part of the North Dakota Air National Guard's 119th Wing, is made up of active guard reserve, or AGR, personnel who are full-time staff members working jointly with the U.S. Air force active-duty personnel in the missile fields on a daily basis. The 219th SFS is also made up of traditional Air Guard personnel, who train one weekend per month and 15 days each year in their missile field security and support jobs. The traditional Guard members sometimes work more than their fifteen days each year, when their civilian schedule allows, and it is beneficial to the military for them to do so.
The AGRs are tasked with training the traditional Guard members on a monthly basis as well as doing full-time security work in the missile fields.
"The security forces personnel in the missile fields have to undergo their initial security forces training and then more security training specific to their job, which amounts to almost twice as much as other security forces jobs," says Schauer.
Training for the 219th SFS members culminated May 17-31 with Operation Minute Man, a two-week surge period, where North Dakota Air National Guard members take primary positions for missile field security in the entire northern portion of the missile field complex. This is the second time such a surge has happened with the 219th SFS in the complex, which covers many miles of the North Dakota plains near Minot and includes dozens of missile field alert facilities and missile launch facilities.
The missile field alert facilities and missile launch facilities have extensive, high-tech alarm systems, and security personnel spend time monitoring and checking the facilities for suspicious activities and responding to motion-sensing alarms, which would be triggered by intruders, but which can also be triggered by animals and even the wind.
The 219th SFS surge allows their active-duty counterparts to redirect their attention on other aspects of their jobs, and to give them a chance for some much needed time off.
"The surge allows our active-duty Airmen to take a little time off to regroup and reset their batteries moving into our busy summer season, which is very much appreciated," said Col. Kevin Cullen, the 91st Missile Wing Security Forces Group commander.
The 219 SFS has been built over the past several years by recruiting and training non-prior service members as well as prior service members from both the N.D. Air National Guard and active-duty ranks.
"We have gotten to the point where some of the AGRs have been doing missile field security longer than their active duty counterparts that they work alongside in the field," says Schauer. "We work hard at our training and I trust our traditional Guard members and AGRs to be professional in their jobs. They rise to the challenge."
The North Dakota Air National Guard has been a part of many firsts in the mission of missile field security, but it is becoming apparent that the mission is becoming routine for them as they become more and more blended with their active-duty counterparts through the total force concept.
"The most important point I can make is that when I visit the missile fields, you absolutely cannot tell the difference between the 219th personnel and the active-duty members, and our special weapons are always maintained in a safe, secure manner no matter who is out there," Cullen said.