Security provided to the Air Force missile bases that oversee a Minuteman missile wing, has been, and continues to be, an extensive security task force. The seriousness at hand does not get taken for granted to the men and women who provide security to the Strategic Missile Wing, which includes the Air Force base, the Launch Control Facility - including the below ground Launch Control Center, and the 150 Launch Facilities assigned to the missile wing.
What adds to the seriousness of being responsible for providing security to the world's most powerful weapon, is the fact that the security force is assigned to a missile complex that covers anywhere from 10,000 to 13,000 square miles.
There are a number of job duties and responsibilities assigned to the Missile Security Forces Squadron. The Air Force expects nothing but the highest degree of protection and security in the following areas.
Each Air Force Missile Wing Base has a number of Airman who guard that base itself. Entering into the missile base, military personnel and civilians are met by security at the front gate, and are there to check ID and assure that those individuals entering the base have a specific purpose being there at that particular time.
Each missile wing has a Weapons Storage Area, where there are nuclear warheads (Reentry Vehicles) stored. Security is essential for this area as well. In fact, access to the Weapons Storage Area is achieved through a completely separate roadway entrance, which has a higher degree of strict security standards to enter that area of the missile base.
Given that the men and women who are responsible to provide top notch security to the Minuteman weapon system, they are provided with some of the most serious weapons to accomplish that task.
Branching out from the missile base itself, the Missile Security Force provide their most intense security while escorting a convoy from the base out to a Launch Facility. In those cases in which the Payload Transporter (see images above and below) is carrying essential weapon systems (a warhead, Guidance Computer Set, Post Boost Vehicle, etc.) to and from the 150 Launch Facilities assigned to that missile base, a respectable number of Security Teams are provided for these activities.
Civilians who live near these missile bases in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming have been surprised by Air Force security, due to the civilian unknowingly pulling their car over to use their cell phone and they have pulled over close to a Launch Facility just up the road. At that point a Humvee Security Force that happens to be in that area, will stop and kindly ask that civilian to move down the road.
One of the exercises that the Missile Security Forces continually train for, is the concern that an enemy combatant will have their vehicle stopped on the side of the road or highway with the intent to lure the Security Team into a dangerous situation in which the enemy combatant will try to hijack a missile system convoy, or attempt to gain assess to a Launch Facility, after disabling the Security Team.
So, when a Security Patrol sees a vehicle pulled over on the side of the road close to a Launch Facility, they get nervous about it. With good cause. They are tasked with and are given the immense responsibility of assuring the safety and security for the world's most powerful weapon, the Minuteman III missile.
In the image above you can see the dark camouflaged Humvee that the Security Forces use to patrol the 15 Missile Alert Facilities, (Launch Control Facilities) as well as the 150 Launch Facilities dispersed throughout the missile complex. These Humvees have the tell tale machine gun turret on top, and often times are equipped with an M60 machine gun.
Over the years, the Air Force has been steadily increasing and fortifying their security forces, as is evidenced by the introduction of the Humvee, and later followed by the BearCat, which is a heavily armored and equipped vehicle, often times used in the convoy escorts described above.
The Bell Huey UH-1N helicopter is an additional asset to the Missile Security Force Team. The Huey UH-1N is a an integral part of the mobile fire team and are always present when a valuable weapon systems component is transported to or from the Launch Facility. These helicopters can be utilized if a Launch Facility has been breached, and a security team needs to get there quickly.
The Missile Security Force team pictured above captures the serious nature of what these men and women are about in terms of the role they play in providing security to the Minuteman missile and its weapon system.
In addition to using Huey UH-N1 helicopters and heavily armored Humvees and BearCats with superior firepower, the Air Force Missile Security Force also uses German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois security dogs to add to their security force. The German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois add a high degree of intimidation when encountering and subduing an enemy combatant. These Military Working Dogs are also trained to detect explosives and other dangerous ordinance. These dogs come with a highly versatile, highly skilled working set that are an invaluable component in providing the utmost of security and safety.
In the images above of the two security dogs, Gina, stationed at Malmstrom AFB, is a Belgian Malinois, and Roko, directly above, is a German Shepherd.
In working with these highly intelligent, competent, skilled, fiercely loyal and loving security dogs, the dog handlers, Airman, as well as the civilians who encounter these incredible animals as they perform their daily duties, are strongly impacted by these dogs. When one of these Military Work Dogs die, there is a memorial service held with full military honors for their comrade.
It is a remarkable ceremony where those individuals who were impacted by the dog come to pay their respect. Often times one or two of the civilian employees who works on the base, will be among those who speak about their admiration and affection for the deceased security dog. As with the human memorial services, these services held for these incredible dogs will not have many a dry eye in the room.
During the memorial service, they will also have in attendance the Military Work Dogs assigned to that base participating in the memorial, to pay their respects for their canine colleague who has passed away.
Payload Transporter Convoy - Minot AFB
In the image above, you can see the Payload Transporter being escorted out to the Launch Facility. To see this convoy on the highway in person, is an impressive sight. The Huey helicopter watches over everything from above, there are multiple Humvees present, BearCats, and a Federal Marshall is a part of the security task force, as well as a number of support and security personnel.
During the transport from the missile base to the Launch Facility, the weapon system is at its most vulnerable state. Thus the massiveness of the security presence in these convoys. It is reported that during these escorts, the security convoy has an arsenal of 60 machine gunners at hand. For those who might question the security preparedness in these escorts, it is difficult to negate the magnitude of what is taking place in terms of these security convoys.
One of the components of providing comprehensive security to the Minuteman missile and its weapon system, is the ability to be prepared to provide security in a variety of different situations. When a Launch Facility necessitates a physical security presence, the Security Forces Camper Team is called upon to fulfill that purpose. If a Launch Facility is undergoing ongoing maintenance that is not able to completed that day, a camper team might be utilized.
Also, if there are problems with the Inner Zone our Outer Zone security system, and that missile wing has not resolved the issue with the security system, they will station two security force team members at the Launch Facility site, until that issue has been completely resolved.
The Michigan based Lenco Industries BearCat (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck) is a heavily armored mobile response vehicle used by the Missile Security Force Team.
The BearCat is based on a Ford F-550 Super Duty Chassis with the F-550 turbo diesel engine, producing 350 horsepower and 650 foot pounds of torque. The 1/2 inch thick mil spec steel armored body work is combined with .50 caliber rated ballistic glass capable of multiple hits, blast resistant floors and specially designed gun ports, roof hatches and turrets.
The Air Force has purchased a total of 60 BearCats to be utilized within the Missile Security Force Squadrons.