MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. –
Every year U.S. Strategic Command holds a nuclear-command and control exercise, Global Thunder, which tests and validates the nuclear operation process, exercises like these demonstrate the readiness of the nation’s nuclear capabilities. Global Thunder 22 tested Team Minot’s 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing.
The training opportunities built into GT tested all USSTRATCOM mission areas with a specific focus on nuclear readiness. This enables the command’s global operations in coordination with other combatant commands, services, appropriate U.S. government agencies, and allies to deter, detect and, if necessary, defeat strategic attacks against the United States and its allies.
In addition, to Team Minot personnel, Airmen and aircraft from the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana integrated with 5th Bomb Wing personnel at Minot AFB, North Dakota conducting combined B-52H Stratofortress planning, maintenance, security, logistics, and operations within the GT22 scenario. Day-to-day, both bomber wings maintain a combat-ready, global-strike posture, enabling geographic combatant command requirements from either U.S.-based or forward locations around the world when called upon.
5th Bomb Wing Crew Chiefs
Crew chiefs from the 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron played an integral role over the course of Global Thunder. Crew chiefs serve as tactical aircraft maintainers who coordinate the aircraft's care and call in the specialists when they find a problem. In other words, if the jet were a patient in a hospital, the crew chief would be a primary doctor, coordinating with specialists as needed.
Tech Sgt. Timothy Preston, 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Crew Chief for the B-52H Stratofortress, oversaw maintenance on his aircraft during GT.
“It’s a team effort,” said Preston. “This wouldn’t be able to happen without the supporting teams like us.”
Crew chiefs often remain on stand-by for hours on end. While on alert status, they stay in heated sheds near their assigned aircraft. When alarms go off in the exercise the crew chiefs run to their aircraft and make final preparations for takeoff. Shortly after, pilots and aircrew arrive to operate the aircraft.
Global Thunder 22 featured a fly off of 11 B-52s from both Barksdale AFB and Minot AFB.
Without airfield management, the jets would have many more roadblocks to overcome before they could leave the base. Staff Sgt. Derek Brown, 5th Operational Support Squadron airfield management non-commission officer in charge, had a major role in ensuring Team Minot’s B-52s were properly cared for.
Brown helped oversee recent renovations to the mass parking apron on the flight line. Brown and his team inspected and certified the section of the MPA, minimizing potential risk to the aircraft by ensuring it was safe for the aircraft parked there.
“I never have to question where me or my Airmen fit in,” said Brown. “We know our role in the mission.”
Brown also assisted in coordinating support flights for maintainers and security forces members flying from Barksdale AFB to Minot AFB. Brown then trained them and certified Airmen with a flight line driver’s license, increasing mission efficiency and safety.
91st Missile Wing
In addition, to bomber operations, the 91st Missile Wing validated the quick strike posture of the Minuteman III fleet through maintenance actions and training objectives. The 91st MW maintains a safe, secure, and effective 24/7/365 alert posture through the efforts of skilled maintenance, operational, and security forces Airmen.
Capt. Noah Warren, generation flight commander for the 91st Missile Maintenance Squadron, manages and ensures the execution of all missile maintenance needs at Team Minot.
“Global Thunder is giving us a unique opportunity to evaluate ourselves and see how we are performing,” said Warren. “We all fit into the puzzle. We need to all work together to ensure the mission is complete to the best of our ability.”
Maj. Cory Elder, assistant director of operations for the 742nd Missile Squadron, was the 91st MW crisis action team director. In this role, Elder ensured missileers and missile maintainers performed their roles effectively during the exercise.
“We are ready 24/7, inside or out of an exercise,” said Elder. He also stated it is monumental to see two attributes of the nuclear triad working together to ensure GT22 goes smoothly.
“I’ve never seen a Global Thunder where we didn't come out better on the other end”, said Elder.
Global Strike Airmen Upheld USSTRATCOM Readiness
U.S. Strategic Command deters strategic attack and employs forces, as directed, to guarantee the security of our nation and our allies. Minot AFB and Barksdale AFB exercised this mission during GT22.
With the 5th BW, 2nd BW and 91st MW training side-by-side in GT22, Airmen validated their enhanced resiliency and interoperability at Minot AFB and across Air Force Global Strike Command.