Minot Airmen respond to missile field threat

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Airmen here recently had their job skills tested when a launch facility in the missile field was entered and vandalized by protesters.

At approximately 10 a.m., June 20 three individuals unlawfully entered Echo-09 missile launch facility, located in McLean County west of the town of Garrison.

Within minutes, 91st Missile Security Forces Squadron members descended on the intruders and quickly detained them until local law enforcement arrived, arrested and transported the individuals to jail.

The area was then swept by security forces Airmen from the 91st MSFS and the 791st MSFS with aerial support from the 54th Helicopter Squadron.

Airmen from the 5th Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight were also called to the scene to ensure some items left at the site did not pose an explosives threat.

"The 91st Space Wing has the ability to respond to situations like this at a moments notice. At no time was the safety and security of the site in question," said Col. Sandy Finan, 91st Space Wing Commander.

Quick and effective response time can be attributed to rigorous and dedicated training.

"Airmen here take pride in being the best at everything, but success doesn't come without hard work and lots of practice," said Lt. Col. Wayne Kelm, 5th Bomb Wing Chief of Plans and Exercises. "Training and exercises are ways we help Airmen ensure when real world events happen, they have the tools to be successful."

The three individuals who unlawfully entered the missile launch facility gained access by using bolt cutters at the gate.

Once inside they hung signs and vandalized equipment before they were detained by security forces.

The individuals arrested are tied to a number of peace activist groups.

"The cooperation with local authorities from Mclean County, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Three Affiliated Tribes was outstanding and a tribute to their professionalism and our continued welcome relationship with North Dakota and the surrounding communities," said Lt. Col. Douglas James, on-scene commander, 5th Mission Support Group. "Our EOD and 5th Civil Engineer Squadron hazardous material teams performed flawlessly and the timely and professional response from the 91st SFG demonstrated their readiness and training.

"This is just another example of outstanding professionalism exhibited by Team Minot and the local community."
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