Managing a missile alert facility

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jessica McConnell
  • Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
Imagine a team staying at a hotel that loses power and there is no one they can call to fix it. What if the heat went out in the middle of a harsh North Dakota winter, and the team has no one to restore the heat.

Now imagine that team supports the most important mission in the Air Force. Luckily, the men and women who live and work in the 91st Missile Wing's many missile alert facilities have a person they can call at anytime for support.

They are the MAF facility managers. They support the combat crewmembers, security forces, maintenance teams and chefs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their mission is so important and varied, the old phrase "jack of all trades, master of none" could be restated as "jack of all trades, master of everything."

Master Sgt. Randy Anderson, 741st Missile Squadron facility manager, volunteered for this position more than two years ago.

"When people ask me what I do, I reply by asking if they have a half hour," Anderson laughed. "Facility managers are responsible for getting everything done," said Anderson. "If everything isn't done, the facility manager risks staying an extra day to make sure the work gets done."

Tech. Sgt. Michael Stanke, a 741st MS facility manager, also volunteered for this position and has been doing it now for more than two years.

"We basically support everyone else doing their mission," said Stanke. "A person could almost put us under support, services, and maintenance. We basically make sure everyone can do their job."

There are several checks the facility managers must do every morning. They are responsible for testing water levels, fuel levels, ensuring missileers, missile chefs, missile maintenance teams and security forces members have their linen and room assignment, and ensuring the MAF stays clean and up to standards.

"The missile chefs and security forces help with cleaning when they can," continued the sergeant. "We are also charged to mow the grass during the summer and maintain the area around the facility. When it snows, it's a lot harder to keep the area clear. There have been times when I've spent my entire stay outside, every day until 11 p.m., just trying to remove snow."

The technical sergeant said they never really leave the MAF, except for emergency situations.

"If there is an emergency situation like a fire or someone gets hurt, the chef and I are the actual response members for that," he said. "The only other time we can go out is for physical training, but we can't really go too far. We are basically on call 24 hours a day here."

Including the travel time going out to the MAF, facility managers spend about four days at a time out in the field.

"The hardest part is completing tour after tour," said Anderson. "We spend about five months out of the year out here. We do get days off, but ultimately it wears a person down after a while."

So far, the total time Anderson has spent out at a missile alert facility is equivalent to more than a year. He said he spends approximately five to five and a half months out in the field per year. Not only does this time affect the facility managers, but it also affects their families back home.

"It's hard because it's basically a miniature deployment every time we leave," said Anderson.

Although facility managers are out in the field for a majority of their time, they still recognize the benefits this job provides, like being able to take online classes during their downtime at the MAF.

"I kind of like the isolation," said Anderson. "Just being on your own, you get to be your own boss. You decide what you want to do that day and when you want to do it. This position also looks really good for technical sergeants going up for master sergeant."

Whether they are keeping the area around the facility clean and clear or are assisting in an emergency situation, one thing is certain, the facility manager position is essential to smooth operations and guaranteed stability at any missile alert facility.

[This article is the third of a series covering the missile alert facility team members and how they support the overall mission of the 91st Missile Wing.]