The Peacekeeper missile deactivation marks the end of an era for security forces here who have been responsible for guarding 50 Peacekeepers, in the field and in transit, for 19 years.
F.E. WARREN AFB, Wyo. – Kenneth Driscoll, 90th Missile Security Forces Squadron, closes the gate at Romeo Missile Alert Facility Dec. 20, 2004, near Chugwater, Wyo. (Photo by Senior Airman Lauren Hasinger)
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F.E. WARREN AFB, Wyo. – The Peacekeeper missile deactivation marks the end of an era for security forces here who have been responsible for guarding 50 Peacekeepers, in the field and in transit, for 19 years.
Maj. Andrew Hugg, 790th Missile Security Forces Squadron commander, has worked with the Peacekeeper throughout most of his career. Major Hugg started in the Air Force as a missileer assigned to a Peacekeeper squadron. He is now a security forces officer and has led many troops in the protection of America’s most powerful nuclear weapons.
Working the operational side of the Peacekeeper is different than protecting it with security forces, however, Major Hugg believes understanding the overall mission is important for members working in either field.
“As a missileer, I imagined the Russian missileer going down into his capsule and pointing his missile at me while I went into mine and did the same thing, so I always had a good sense of mission,” said Major Hugg. “On the cop side, it’s different because you’re above ground, and you’re working with a lot of people. The mission feels totally different, but you’re still protecting the same resource.”
The Peacekeeper missile has been a major part of why the 90th Security Forces Group is one of the largest of its kind in Air Force Space Command. With its deactivation, security forces members will have fewer assets to guard in the missile field. The personnel that protected the Peacekeeper will be spread around the security forces group to equalize work schedules, said Major Hugg.
“The area of responsibility for missile security forces members will shrink by a fourth,” he said. “Some members work more than others. We want to get the schedule equalized, so that’s what that manpower is going to be used for.”
Although the Peacekeeper has been a source of pride for security forces at Warren, Major Hugg and others agree the deactivation is happening for the right reasons.
“To me, this is a good thing because at least Russia and America made a treaty to de-escalate their nuclear programs,” said Major Hugg.
Tech. Sgt. John Slattery, assistant flight chief for the Convoy Response Flight in the 790 MSFS, also reflected upon the experiences he’s had working with the Peacekeeper.
He has helped with more than 30 deactivations of the Peacekeeper missile, and provided security for countless movements of Peacekeeper warheads for routine maintenance.
“The deactivation is a good thing,” said Sgt. Slattery. “Every time we’ve done a deactivation, I get a really big sense of accomplishment because we’re actually getting rid of something we really don’t need in this world.”
Airmen 1st Class Josh Ingram and Richard Phillips, Convoy Response Force members from the 790 MSFS, have provided security for about 15 deactivations of the Peacekeeper missile, bringing the nuclear weapons from the field back to Warren.
“It feels good to know that we’re part of something that’s going to be part of history,” said Airman Ingram. “I can tell my kids, ‘I was there. I helped deactivate the very last one.’ It’s going to be a very satisfying experience.”
First Lt. Jesse Goens, officer in charge of Camper Support and a certified convoy commander in the 790 MSFS, has directed the transportation of nuclear weapons for only a few months, but has a deep appreciation for the Peacekeeper deactivation. He finds it special that his father was also involved with deactivating a weapons system.
“I think it’s pretty neat because my dad deactivated the B-52s off alert at Barksdale when Strategic Air Command went away,” said Lieutenant Goens. “So the fact that I get to deactivate a weapons system too, like a father-son tradition, is special.”