F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --
Recently, missileers from across the 20th Air Force accompanied the 20th Air Force commander on the Airborne Command Post to witness the national impact of the ICBM mission.
Also known as the Looking Glass, the Airborne Command Post is always prepared to assume responsibility for operations should ground-based command centers become inoperable. Capt. Nathan Larson, 90th Operations Support Squadron, said this opportunity was a welcome change from routine, day-to-day operations and opened his eyes to the possibilities of his career field.
"The opportunity to fly on the ACP has been great in widening my perspective of the role of ICBMs,” Capt. Larson said. “It was quite a sight watching the ACP battle staff in action and seeing the coordination of this group effectively manage the command, control and employment of our nation’s nuclear weapons.”
Recently Maj. Gen. Anthony Cotton, 20th Air Force and Task Force 214 commander, briefed members of the 13N career field, nuclear and missile operations, at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, Francis E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, and Minot AFB, North Dakota. Following this event, the General provided several missileers the opportunity to broaden their careers and view other possible career paths a 13N can take.
"I want ICBM operators to see firsthand what they bring to the fight,” Cotton said. “I want our crewmembers to realize the opportunities that are available across our enterprise."
With the support and coordination of U.S. Strategic Command, 20th Air Force members began a "fly along" program on the Airborne Command Post. As a missileer, Capt. Larson said he sometimes did not have the chance to see how missileers’ daily tasks contribute to the overall mission of the Air Force.
“Being able to experience this ACP mission has helped me better understand how my day-to-day mission works hand-in-hand with other pieces of the nuclear triad which enables these decisions to be made,” said Capt. Larson.
Capt. Kerry Dubuisson, 91st Operations Support Squadron, added it was a great opportunity to be chosen to fly with Cotton aboard the ACP and to experience a day in the life of the men and women flying that unique mission.
“This type of exposure and training will have many significant impacts on the 13N career field,” Capt. Dubuisson said. “Emergency War Order planners, such as myself, will be able to use the knowledge and experience gained to better train crew members on the critical importance of what they do every day. The individuals who get the opportunity to participate in these experiences will also be able to teach crews about the opportunities that are out there for them.”
Capts. Larson and Dubuisson were two of the first four missileers to experience this opportunity; however, crewmembers assigned to F.E. Warren, Malmstrom, and Minot will be given the chance to fly on alert with the Battlestaff, led by a 1- or 2-star flag or general officer, and observe exercises that incorporate the entire nuclear enterprise. This opportunity is one of the many professional development opportunities Maj. Gen. Cotton and the 20th Air Force ICBM Center of Excellence are making available to Airmen.
“Our intent is to maximize specific and deliberate development for 20th Air Force Airmen,” Lt. Col. Sylvette Ortiz, 20th Air Force ICBM Center of Excellence said. “We are trying to give people maximum exposure and training in order to be well-rounded, highly-trained and effective nuclear professionals, and to give people an idea of what is actually available outside of their base.”
The training will target all career fields with courses designed to broaden Airmen’s perspective on how their work contributes to national security.
“All members of our nuclear enterprise are warriors,” Maj. Gen. Cotton said. “As long as I'm commander, I will continue to expose our Airmen to different aspects of our nuclear mission--it's that important!”