The nuclear Triad consists of three areas of delivery: Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM), Strategic Submarine Ballistic Missiles (SSBN) and heavy bombers. Two of the three are located at Minot Air Force Base in Minot, North Dakota.
The nuclear capability of the United States Military provides an umbrella of defense and deterrence that protects us and allows our forces and our allies to move and operate around the World.
There is no more important mission in the U.S. military. Every aspect of the mission seems to have an elevated aspect to it.
The North Dakota Air National Guard's 219th Security Forces Squadron, in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force active duty components at Minot Air Force Base, continue to make 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 missile field complex is an example of the total force concept.
"We are now an active component in the operationalization of the National Guard, rather than a strategic reserve in our mission, and we are currently the only ANG unit working like this in the missile fields," said Lt. Col. Tad Schauer.
Full-time, active Guard reserve (AGR) and traditional North Dakota Air National Guard members are performing the real-world mission of missile field security on a daily basis throughout the Minot Air Force Base missile field complex near Minot, and it has evolved into a normal activity for the 219th SFS to take over a large sector of the complex each year for an annual training period.
The 219th SFS, a detachment of the N.D. Air National Guard's 119th Wing, is made up of full time and traditional personnel, all trained to perform the same missile field security mission. The AGR, personnel who are the full-time staff members, work jointly with the U.S. Air Force active-duty personnel regularly and are seamlessly blended in the missile field security mission, along with the traditional Air Guard personnel.
The traditional Air Guard personnel 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 15 days each year -- if it is beneficial to the mission -- and their civilian work schedule allows for them to do so.
The AGRs are tasked with training the traditional Guard members during monthly unit training assemblies, as well as doing their full-time security work in the missile fields.
"The 219th is doing the annual training in conjunction with our mission," Schauer said.
Training for the 219th SFS members culminated May 23 through June 4 with a two-week period, where N.D. Air National Guard members took primary positions for missile filed security in an entire 'sector' of the missile field complex. This is the fourth time such a surge has happened with the 219th SFS in the complex, which covers 8,500 square miles over the North Dakota plains and includes dozens of missile alert facilities and missile launch facilities.
The missile 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.
The 219th SFS annual training period allows Minot Air Force Base active-duty counterparts to redirect their attention to other aspects of their jobs and conduct additional training.
"Having the 219th doing this annual training period gives us the opportunity to rotate people and equipment from the field and make sure the equipment is properly maintained and repaired," said Col. Raymund Tembreull, commander of the 91st Security Forces Group.
The 219th 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," Schauer said.
"We work hard at our training, and I trust our traditional Guard members and AGRs to be professional in their jobs. We do the annual training period every year without issues."
The N.D. Air National Guard has been a part of many firsts in the mission of missile field security, and the mission is becoming routine for them as they become more experienced.
"Our people have become more confident in their role through corporate knowledge because of our experience, and we can give people a little more latitude in their professional positions to do what they need to do because of that experience," said Chief Master Sgt. Mike Schreiner.
The 219th recently added the four-person fire team role to their arsenal, including the MK-19, a 40mm automatic grenade launcher, affectionately called the "Thumper." It has an effective range of more than a mile and has the ability to 'deliver extreme fire power' to a site.
"We can dominate an entire target area with that single system once the Thumper gets there. We say we have control of the site once it's there," said Tembreull.
Having the 219th SFS trained and equipped with the MK-19 (often called the Mark-19) and armored BearCat vehicle has doubled their capability in that area and resulted in effectively cutting down response times.
The successful relationship between the 219th SFS and the active duty counterparts was apparent during a recent nuclear surety inspection (NSI) at Minot AFB.
"During our last NSI we did a denial exercise with the Inspector General and we had control of the site in less than 30 minutes -- it was the fastest they have ever seen, the best they had ever seen. And we wouldn't have been able to achieve that without the 219th," said Tembreull. "The only issue we have with the 219th is we would like to have more of them," he added.