“While China has focused on creating the regional conventional forces it believes it needs, China is also dramatically expanding its nuclear force and military space capabilities. We cannot sustain deterrence by standing still.” Frank Kendall, SECAF, 5 September 2023 letter to all Airmen and Guardians
2024 AAFM National Meeting Registration is open:
Registration for our 2024 National Meeting is now active on our website. Click here to register. We will be meeting in Buellton, CA 23-27 October 2024 at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott. Events include a winery tour (limited to 100), a Vandenberg tour, our Membership meeting, and the Hall of Fame Dinner with Keynote speaker. Check out our website for more details. Speakers will be announced as they are confirmed.
War Fighters in Action at Minot AFB:
The 91st MW and 5th BW commanders held an online joint panel discussion on Oct 30 as part of the “Air & Space Warfighters in Action” series. The 91st MW/CC Col. Kenneth C. McGhee and 5th BW/CC Col. Daniel S. Hoadley provided their unique insights of the only USAF base supporting two legs of the Triad.
Col. McGhee stated that Sentinel is not slated to be at Minot AFB until 2027. Until then, Minuteman will have to be sustained and launch ready through the entire transition to Sentinel. This means Minuteman certified maintenance teams; security forces and combat crews will be needed until the Sentinel transition is complete. As Sentinel stands up, Minuteman will still be the backbone of deterrence.
Col McGhee discussed the impact of extended alert tours on our Airmen and quality of life. Crew tours are seven days long. Families with children have a hard time finding childcare at a reasonable price. This also impacts the 5th BW when they pack up around 150 people and deploy them. The need for upgraded childcare facilities is needed Air Force wide! Family readiness means combat readiness!
Airmen who have pets that require expensive kenneling are also impacted. Commanders have started a program where airmen help other airmen when they are on alert or deployed. They take care of families and pets in their homes.
The following are some Golden Nuggets from Col McGhee:
- In reply to a question on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) on missile operations. "We are upgrading our UAS counter capabilities and exercising those capabilities”.
- “The dramatic rise in Chinese ICBM capabilities is impressive. ICBMs will deter that capability as well as the other legs of the Triad and will be needed in the future”.
- “The future Nuclear Command and Control Systems will require an un-hackable, very secure capacity. Sentinel’s digital capacity will also leverage cyber capability and save manpower”.
- “The majority of our Airmen in the missile field are first term Airmen, challenged with great responsibility and are doing great work.”
Want to know More? Minot Wing Commanders
Cancer Study Update:
AAFM strongly supports the efforts of the Torchlight Initiative which continues to lead the way in representing Missileers concerns and interests regarding toxic exposures within the missile community. AAFM continues to post their information on our website but for a direct link for their latest talking papers, click here: Resources - Torchlight Initiative.
As you will read on their website, the Torchlight Initiative is a non-government organization composed of current and former ICBM community members and their families. Their mission is to address health issues of vital interest to the ICBM community, specifically, to address the higher rates of cancer and associated disorders amongst those that operated, maintained, supported, or protected ICBM delivery systems. Their goal is to ensure the current and future ICBM environment is safe for all current and future personnel while continuing to support the vital deterrent capability inherent in the ICBM mission. They advocate for this community and ensure former and current community members receive education, health monitoring, health care, and when appropriate, VA claim service connection.
ICBM PCB Cancer Cleanup Moves Forward:
As part of the AFGSC PCB survey conducted in July, a total of 900 surface swipe samples were collected across all of the command’s MAFs and LCCs, focusing on common touch areas and places where known or suspected PCB-containing equipment was currently or historically installed. Of the 900 samples, 832 (92.5 percent) detected no PCBs, and 64 (7.1 percent) detected PCBs below EPA’s mitigation threshold. Four surface samples (0.44 percent) detected PCBs above the EPA’s mitigation standards, two each at Malmstrom and Minot AFBs. (Graphic By: SSgt Shelby Thurman)
Want to know more? PCB ICBM Cleanup Moves Forward
Sentinel ICBM Program Status Check.
A Government Accountability Office Report stated “Initial capability for the LGM-35A Sentinel ICBM is now slated for April to June 2030--a year later than the May 2029 date. Sentinel is behind schedule due to staffing shortfalls, delays with clearance processing, and classified information technology infrastructure challenges. Additionally, the program is experiencing supply chain disruptions, leading to further schedule delays. The prime contractor is working on multiple supply chain mitigations to address the issue.”
Note: In October 1958, the US government contracted with Boeing to assemble and test the first Minuteman. The Air Force began constructing the first Minuteman missile field on March 16, 1961, and the first ten-missile flight was activated on October 27, 1962, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Four years to activation!
Want to Know More? Sentinel ICBM Delayed page 87.
Malmstrom picture request:
Do you remember this sign outside of 341 SMW/ DO22? If you have information on who created it and when, please let us know. The wing would like to create a plague to acknowledge its origin. Send info to Director@AFMissileers.org
Teaching a Third Grader About Deterrence!
As a third grade Air Force “Brat”, my family was stationed in Japan on Kyushu Island. In the 60’s, my dad took our family to the Nagasaki Peace Museum. The impact of this trip has remained with me for 61 years. Upon entering the museum, I saw the atomic shadow pictures of several Japanese students, about my age, burned into a fence. The images were so clear, I could see their backpacks and faces clearly outlined on the fence. A steel Japanese helmet was also displayed, and the remains of the soldier’s skull were fused to the inside. The entire museum displayed amazing artifacts showing the devastation and the ferocity of the explosion. See more: Museum Site
On the way home in our 1958 Plymouth Belvedere, we were all very quiet. Dad broke the silence and asked, “well what do you think?” My sister immediately said, “it was scary”. I leaned over the front seat, (no seatbelts in a 58 Belvedere), and asked Dad “why did we bomb them?”
His paused and said, “to save American lives.” I looked at him questionably and he stated, “During WWII if the U.S. had invaded Japan, it was estimated the U.S. would have over one million U.S. casualties.” The President made the decision to use nuclear bombs to end the war quickly. Now, nuclear weapons keep our enemies from attacking us with nuclear bombs. Then Mom looked seriously at Dad and quietly said, “keep your eyes on the road”! I sat back in my seat and fell asleep thinking about what he said.
SAC’s original motto was “War is our Profession Peace is our Product”. Twelve years after SAC was formed it was shortened to “Peace is our Profession”. The mission however is still “to save American lives” through Deterrence. It is Deterrence that mandates the modernization of our strategic forces and why we need the Sentinel ICBM. Source: Anonymous at the request of the author.
Future to the Back?
October 1983 and HQ/SAC DP/XPM (personnel) distributed the Missile Memos to all missileers to keep them informed about the missile career field. DP was looking for Launch Officers to transfer into the tactical Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM) program. GLCM bases were located in great places like Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Hmmm, let me cogitate on this...Italy near the Mediterranean or Minot near Canada? Given the opportunity to tour Europe, many missileers volunteered to be GLCM Tactical Warriors. Below is the cartoon personnel placed at the top of the Missile Memos newsletter to " illuminate" officers on what their training would be like.
PANEL #1: I'M EXCITED ABOUT OUR GLCM LAUNCH OFFICER TRAINING!!
PANEL#2: THIS IS LAUNCH OFFICER TRAINING??
James F. Warner