Military News

Friday, March 06, 2015

Missile fields in winter

by Senior Airman Sean D. Smith
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

3/3/2015 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Minot's demanding winters can be an inconvenience for anyone who has to drive to work, but extreme weather and low temperatures are a more immediate issue for people who do the majority of their work outdoors.

"Many of the tasks we complete on a day-to-day basis, while imperative to the mission, are actually quite easy when done in nice weather," said Airman 1st Class Patrick Boylan, 91st Missile Security Forces Squadron operator. "In my opinion, the hardest part of being a missile cop is withstanding the elements."

Security forces have cold weather gear and layers for warmth. The Humvees that they travel in are heated, and they're able to switch out if necessary so that individuals don't have to stay in the cold for dangerously long periods - but that's not as simple as it sounds when the mercury really starts to drop.

"The exposure that we have is when we're out there in the field, and that's four days at a time," said 2nd Lt. Christopher Anda, 91st MSFS flight commander, flight five.  "If we have to respond to an alarm out there, that can be 30 minutes in the open, or it can be as much as eight to ten hours."

The weather is an important consideration throughout a defender's shift.

"When not responding to anything we make sure to keep the vehicles in a heated garage to ensure they will start the moment we need them," Boylan said. "Extreme cold also affects the amount of responses we make because the cold, snow, and ice sporadically affect the sensors and causes false alarms."

The challenges posed by the cold also demand that Airmen look out for each other.

"If they're out there a long time, we run into issues like how much water do they have, how much food, and does the heater even work?" Anda said. "Stuff like that really tests them because of the cold. The wind just keeps blowing.

"We try to have fun with what we do, and we found that a lot of people end up enjoying it," Anda said. "It's because they realize that it's not about them, it's about everyone else. We keep telling them this flight could be a better flight if everyone got involved."

Anda says to keep morale and performance high, leaders have to take a personal stake in the lives of their Airmen.

"The more we dig into peoples' lives, the better they like it," Anda said. "Everyone just says 'this is what we do,' and it's really good to hear people say that. We just have to stay consistent no matter how cold it gets. We trust each other."

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