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We are Codes, and this is what we do


Nuclear surety governs the management of the U.S. nuclear force by ensuring all associated material, personnel and procedures related to nuclear weapons are safe, secure, and under positive control.

Through programming and requiring more than one person to control coded equipment, the codes flight directly contributes to F.E. Warren’s nuclear surety.

“Nuclear surety and positive control are the most important aspects of our job,” said Capt. Krystal Wilder, codes flight commander, 90th Operation Support Squadron. “We have to make sure everything we do assures our nuclear weapons are safe and secure.”

Missile alert facilities can be as far as 120 miles from base. These codes are in place to guarantee the retainment of nuclear surety and positive control.

 “Due to the remote nature of the ICBMs, the only way to guarantee nuclear surety and positive control is through the ICBM code systems,” said Capt. Paul Gephart, 90th OSS codes assistant director of operations.

The codes shop gets the information they need to build codes from U.S. Strategic Command, who gets the information from the National Security Agency, then builds the rest around it.

“Our job here isn’t to put together a pre-made puzzle that we get from the NSA,” said Nicks.  “We get the basic information, and then we build the rest of what we need and verify that it has been done right.”

Once finished, they work with maintainers to get the equipment out to the missile field.

“Our mission is to provide properly coded equipment to the field in a timely and efficient way,” said Master Sgt. Michael Nicks, 90th OSS ICBM codes superintendent. “We are responsible for ensuring the maintainers and missile combat crew members who handle the coded equipment are properly trained and know how to handle this equipment when they take it out to the field.”

Everything that is coded is checked and rechecked by different people to make sure everything is done properly.

“The morning shift dispatches components first thing and makes sure the night team coded everything correctly and filled out the paperwork properly,” said Wilder. “After that, it’s a matter of monitoring phone calls, and making sure training is up to date until the shift change.”

During the evening shift, they continue to monitor phone calls and wait for the components that were dispatched in the morning shift to return from the field, Wilder added.

“Keeping up with training and monitoring phone calls is only one aspect of the job,” Nicks said. “We also maintain 165 records of every coding item in the field. When components get swapped out there, we have to update that in our records.”

Nuclear surety is a very well executed mission due to the hard work of the Airmen in the codes shop.