Airmen behind the scenes keep complex activities running smoothly

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jason Wiese
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
The 90th Missile Wing's missile complex, all three missile squadrons totaled, is roughly the size of Vermont. Each of its 15 constituent flight areas is bigger than Houston. With this in mind, the daily tasks of travel to and from the field, dispatching maintenance teams and providing security for the complex might seem a little daunting.

To help with this, 90th MW leadership has the Maintenance Operations Center/Traffic Control Center and missile/central security controllers on the job 24/7.

Tucked away in the basement of Building 232, the MMOC/TCC and security forces Airmen there provide a go-between for Airmen in the field and their leaders on base, said Staff Sgt. James Strickland, 90th Maintenance Operations Squadron Missile Maintenance Operations Center trainer.

Collectively, the Airmen in the MMOC/TCC and their co-located security forces counterparts are responsible for keeping Airmen in the missile complex as well as group-, wing- and numbered air force-level leadership up-to-date on what is happening in the field with regards to maintenance, security and road conditions, he said.

We oversee and direct maintenance technicians in the field and provide assistance when they need it, he said.

"We watch over the field to make sure sites stay on alert and the maintainers in the field are taken care of," he said.

A big part of the MMOC/TCC mission is to ensure they are safe and they make no nuclear surety violations, said Master Sgt. Brandon Otten, 90th MOS MMOC/TCC NCO-in-charge.

There are two main systems MMOC Airmen use: the Integrated Maintenance Data System and the Performance Assessment Data System, Senior Airman Adam Hein, 90th MOS MMOC weapon system forward controller, said.

Maintenance shops in ICBM wings upload work orders to the IMDS, and MMOC Airmen help coordinate the teams' activities so there are no instances of bad scheduling, such as two teams scheduled for the same job, Hein said.

The PADS is a color-coded system that gives a visual display of the maintenance status of the field and the technicians' activities there, he said.

"Down here, we get a way bigger picture of how the whole system works," he said.

This, he said, is helpful for missile maintainers because they begin their careers in a shop that focuses on a specific aspect of missile maintenance, and working in the MMOC/TCC gives an opportunity to get a broader understanding of missile maintenance as a whole.

Ninetieth MOS Airmen also provide a key role in the regulation of traffic in the missile complex, said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Jennings, 90th MOS TCC controller.

We track all teams going to and from base and are in charge of updating road conditions, he said.

"Some days you'll see rain, snow, wind -- it can get pretty hectic," he said.

Airmen traveling in the missile complex keep traffic controllers updated about the road conditions in the missile complex, who in turn aggregate the data and provide Airmen in the field information about the best and safest roads to take, he said.

"It's first-hand experience," he said. "It has to be."

The people actually driving and seeing the roads are the most capable of providing reliable road information, he said.

Like the MMOC/TCC, missile security controllers, who also work in (and take up half of) the same room in the Building 232 basement, monitor and coordinate security activities in the missile complex, and relay the information to base leadership, said Staff Sgt. Kit Purdy, 90th Security Support Squadron MSC.

Alarms at launch facilities and missile alert facilities notify missile combat crews and security forces in the field of potential intrusions into restricted areas, and the MSCs help coordinate security forces responses to ensure the areas stay safe and secure, he said.

Also, like the MMOC/TCC, the MSCs serve as a go-between for those in the field and base leadership, said Tech. Sgt. Landon Henrie, 90th SSPTS MSC.

"We're a key command and control facility," he said. "We give leaders a big picture."

Without the MSC's contributions, commanders would have a harder time making the best decisions because they would not have access to pertinent information, he said.

Working together with maintainers gives the MSCs important information about missile field conditions, team locations and road conditions, he said.

"That's key for us because we need to be able to tell our security forces the best way to get to where they need to go without putting them in danger," he said.

An equally important role is played by central security controllers in the MMOC/TCC who perform a similar role as MSCs but for secure areas on base instead of in the missile complex, he said.

"What's going on in the field runs as smoothly as it does because leadership has us working behind the scenes," Otten said. "To say we're proud of what we do is an understatement."