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Cops plus copters equal better nuclear security

by Senior Airman J.G. Buzanowski
Air Force Print News

12/7/2005 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- Take four security forces Airmen, throw them on a UH-1 Huey helicopter and what do you get?

A combined defense team that is fast, efficient and keeps the country’s nuclear arsenal well protected.

Helicopter aircrews and security forces at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., have integrated parts of their missions to form response teams for any alarm or threat to a nuclear missile site.

The joint teams consist of security forces Airmen riding in helicopters. The pilots land and the cops are able to deploy and secure an area. This reduces their response time from hours by land, to minutes by air.

The teams are important at Malmstrom, where 200 missile sites are spread over an area roughly the size of West Virginia. Helicopters are necessary for keeping the area secure, said Capt. Richard Allison, a pilot with the 40th Helicopter Squadron there.

“We’ve integrated so we all work as one team now,” the captain said. “Before security forces members would fly once or twice a year. Now there are 23 dedicated people and many fly with us almost daily.”

Combining the efforts into one team has improved the way the Airmen train and perform their mission. For example, both groups now enjoy a familiarity of each other’s mission that improves the way they communicate with one another.

“We speak each other’s languages now, so that’s one of the areas that’s improved,” Captain Allison said. “I know what kind of landing zone works for me. But rather than just dropping them off, I can find something that is mutually beneficial for all of us.”

For Staff Sgt. Heath Adams, of the 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron, the improvements make him more effective at his job. By working with the pilots, security forces get a “bird’s eye view” of an area before and after they deploy into a potentially hazardous situation, he said.

The security forces Airmen received a variety of special instruction, including certification as active aircrew and in counter-sniper training.

“Any time you combine different aspects of training, it broadens your view and makes you more effective,” Sergeant Adams said. “We should never stop looking for ways to secure nuclear weapons.”

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