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20 AF staff augment missile alert force at all three missile wings

  • Published
  • By Capt. Ieva Bytautaite
  • 20th Air Force Public Affairs

20th Air Force headquarters staff, in an effort to support 20 AF missile wings with combat mission ready (CMR) missile operators, are beginning to pull regular alerts at all three missile wings. This effort is not only helping relieve some of the scheduling pressures at the wings but also serves as a professional opportunity for both the HQ staff and the operators in the field.

“It’s important for us as a staff to be connected to the field directly,” said Col. Cathy Barrington, 20 AF operations and communications director. “We need to know what’s going on and be there with the Airmen who are performing alert duties. This helps us know conditions first hand, so we can make good decisions that support our Airmen in the fight.”

Besides providing an opportunity for the staff to stay connected to Airmen in the field, the alerts serve as a professional development opportunity. For example, for an upcoming software test happening in several months at Hill AFB, Utah, missileers from the missile wings will go to perform those tests, while 20 AF staff officers will cover the alert load at the missile wings. This opportunity will allow the missileers to see how the testing process works and understand a little bit more about weapon system development. It will also allow them to offer up their expertise and field experience to highlight any issues or problems, or things that can be done differently.

Last month, Col. Matthew Dillow, 20 AF vice commander, travelled to Minot AFB to pull a week-long alert tour.

“I enjoy alert duty as a change of pace from the headquarters tempo,” said Dillow.  “It is interesting to experience the different field cultures at each wing. Interacting with Airmen in the field over a seven-day period helps with ensuring frank communication and feedback—I feel I can really become a member of the team at that MAF.”

Maj. Jeremy Greever, ICBM codes branch chief, returned from alert at Malmstrom AFB, Montana just a few weeks ago.

“It amazes me how seamlessly our Airmen get the job done, especially in such a large area of responsibility as Malmstrom,” said Greever. “It is extra impressive especially when you consider the relative young age of the Airmen from Security Forces, maintenance and Missileers. It’s such a fun thing to be able to pull alerts with the next generation of Missileers. On my last two alerts I learned so much from my crew partners, and I hope they got some useful information from me.”

1st Lt. Sierra Hunewill-Brown, 490th Missile Squadron crew commander at Malmstrom AFB, was on alert with Greever. She said that being on alert with Greever served as a great professional development perspective and learned a lot from asking him questions and their valuable conversations.

“Maj. Greever and I had a great week together pulling alert,” said Hunewill-Brown. “He had great insight into many things far beyond just pulling alert, which was very beneficial to me. I learned a lot about what options there are for us following our first two crew tours, and how much the career field opens up, which is not something that I think we talk about enough. Also, he made great coffee!”

The initiative is set to continue for the foreseeable future and reap many benefits.

“What we are seeing with our missileers, is that this engagement is building better relationships,” said Barrington. “We are starting to understand each other’s roles and responsibilities better and we are building a better team. The more we work together, the better relationships that we build, and that enhances the force across the board."