Captain pulls missile duty on Air Force birthday
By Louis A. Arana-Barradas, Air Force Print News
/ Published September 22, 2006
9/18/2006 - SAN ANTONIO (AFPN) --
Capt. Jason Hopkin is so busy monitoring ballistic missile launch codes that he will not have time for cake, ice cream and punch on the Air Force's 59th birthday.
He will join the other Airmen around the world who will report to work to fight or support the ongoing war on terrorism.
This war -- like all the ones before -- is taking Airmen to dangerous, far-flung locations to do their jobs. Some of those jobs they had never done before. Others at stateside bases provide the people and support needed to carry on that war.
Captain Hopkin is an ICBM space and missile operator instructor with the 91st Operations Support Squadron at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. He plays a vital role in the nation's defense, even on the Air Force birthday.
"I'll be on the job programming launch and enable codes for the Minuteman III ICBM missile system," the 6-year veteran said.
The Air Force may be a year older, but it is doing more today, with a smaller force, than it did even five years ago. Since becoming a separate service in 1947, the Air Force has increased its capabilities and its global reach now stretches into space.
Today, the Air Force and its sister services are busy achieving what Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne called spherical situational awareness. This allows the U.S. military to take "a comprehensive, spherical view -- at once vertical, horizontal, real time and predictive, penetrating and defended in the cyber realm."
But in a message to the force, Secretary Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley said the Air Force is the globe's dominant force in air, space and cyberspace because of its Airmen.
"Our knowledge-enabled Airmen have revolutionized the way our nation defends itself and its allies across the full spectrum of threats," they said.
Yet the threats of terror attacks on the nation are still a reality. That makes the Air Force's role even more important. That reality is not lost on the captain from Daytona Beach, Fla.
"The air and space superiority we provide is critical for the national defense and the war on terrorism," said Captain Hopkin, the 91st Space Wing's ICBM codes team chief instructor.
As Airmen continue to do their duty today, there are even more changes taking place. And each day new technology and smart processes make doing Air Force business smarter and more efficient. It is hard to predict where the service will be in five years.
But that is clear to Captain Hopkin.
"We will be a smaller capable force," he said. "And we will expand our technical capabilities in both air and space."