As a missileer, Capt. Nathan Larson, of the 90th Operations Support Squadron, said he sometimes doesn’t have the chance to see how missileers’ daily tasks contribute to the overall Air Force mission.
“The opportunity to fly on the ABNCP has been great in widening my perspective of the role of (intercontinental ballistic missiles),” Larson said. “It was quite a sight watching the ABNCP battle staff in action and seeing the coordination of this group effectively manage the command, control and employment of our nation’s nuclear weapons.”
Also known as the Looking Glass, the airborne command post is always prepared to assume responsibility for operations should ground-based command centers become inoperable. Larson said this opportunity was a welcome change from routine, day-to-day operations and opened his eyes to the possibilities of his career field.
Maj. Gen. Anthony Cotton, the 20th Air Force commander and Task Force 214 commander, briefed members of the 13N career field, nuclear and missile operations, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana; F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming; and Minot AFB, North Dakota. Following the events, the general provided several missileers the opportunity to broaden their careers and view other possible career paths a 13N can take.
“I want ICBM operators to see firsthand what they bring to the fight,” Cotton said. “I want our crewmembers to realize the opportunities that are available across our enterprise.”
With support and coordination from the U.S. Strategic Command, the program allowed Larson and other missileers to join the commander on a flight.
“Being able to experience this ABNCP mission has helped me better understand how my day-to-day mission works hand in hand with other pieces of the nuclear triad which enables these decisions to be made,” Larson said.
Capt. Kerry Dubuisson, of the 91st OSS, added it was a great opportunity to be chosen to fly with Cotton aboard the ABNCP and to experience a day in the life of the men and women flying that unique mission.
“This type of exposure and training will have many significant impacts on the 13N career field,” Dubuisson said. “Emergency War Order planners, such as myself, will be able to use the knowledge and experience gained to better train crewmembers on the critical importance of what they do every day. The individuals who get the opportunity to participate in these experiences will also be able to teach crews about the opportunities that are out there for them.”
Larson and Dubuisson were two of the first four missileers to experience this opportunity; however, crewmembers assigned to F.E. Warren, Malmstrom and Minot AFBs will be given the chance to fly on alert with the battle staff, led by a one- or two-star flag or general officer, and observe exercises that incorporate the entire nuclear enterprise.
This opportunity is one of the many professional development opportunities Cotton and the 20th Air Force ICBM Center of Excellence are making available to Airmen.
“Our intent is to maximize specific and deliberate development for 20th Air Force Airmen,” said Lt. Col. Sylvette Ortiz, of the ICBM Center of Excellence. “We are trying to give people maximum exposure and training in order to be well-rounded, highly trained and effective nuclear professionals, and to give people an idea of what is actually available outside of their base.”
The training will target all career fields with courses designed to broaden Airmen’s perspective on how their work contributes to national security.
“All members of our nuclear enterprise are warriors,” Cotton said. “As long as I’m commander, I will continue to expose our Airmen to different aspects of our nuclear mission — it’s that important.”