SAC Missile Security
Atlas Missile Duty
The Atlas series of missile sites were the first ICBMs constructed in the early 1960's and put into service by the United States Air Force and the Strategic Air Command during the Cold War. The sites remained active until the Spring of 1965. There were three different styles of operational Atlas missile complexes built. They were designated as type D, E and F. There were 8 Atlas D, 27 Atlas E and 72 Atlas F operational missile complexes built. They were controlled by 10 different Air Force bases located throughout the United States.
Each Air Force base was assigned a Strategic Missile Squadron which supported the missile complexes that had been constructed near that particular base. F.E Warren AFB was unique in that it had two Atlas D squadrons and one Atlas E squadron assigned. The service life of the Atlas ICBM was short lived and varied from 3 to 5 years depending on the model. The volatile nature of liquid fueled rockets made the Atlas complexes a challenge to manage and maintain.
There were several accidents which caused the complete loss and closure of the site involved. Advancements in solid fuel rocket technology made the Atlas liquid fueled missile obsolete and by mid-1965 all of the Atlas missile sites had been decommissioned and closed.
Air Police Duties
Six Air Policemen were assigned to each site and staying on site in rotating shifts. Each team was on site for a week at a time.
Titan Missile Duty
The Titan I was deployed in a 3×3 configuration, meaning a squadron of nine missiles divided into three, three-missile launch complexes. The Titan II was deployed in a 1×9 configuration. Each squadron. consisted of nine separate launch facilities, each housing a single missile
The Titan I was only deployed for a short time (1962-1965) before being replaced by the Titan II which was in service until 1987.
Air Police Duties
Air Police were tasked with guarding these missiles 24/7. Their duty schedule was 24 on 48 off.
I also remember the night when a young SP was topside in the guard shack and saw muzzle flashes - and we had a Titan I full of Lox sitting topside and boiling off. In the morning, the SPs found some shell cases in the area where the flashes were seen = apparently, the hunters who were firing at the missile were too drunk to hit it - which was a very good thing, since it had several thousand gallons of Lox on board and a reentry vehicle on top.
Col Charlie Simpson (Retired)
Executive Director, Association of Air Force Missileers
Minuteman Missile Duty
he SAC ICBM force was located in the central and north central US. The present day ICBM facilities are much smaller as several of the missile fields have been deactivated as a part of the SALT 2 Treaty.
Launch Control Facility Operations
6 man Security teams are responsible for the security of 10 missile sites in their assigned flight area. Working 12 hours shifts the Alert Response Team would respond to any alarms received by the missile crew. The off duty personnel were assigned as an emergency response force, termed Security Response Team (SRT).
Flight Security Controller
The Flight Security Controller was responsible for granting access to the Launch Control Facility by insuring only authorized personnel gain access. The FSC coordinates with missile maintenance regarding all activities at launch facilities in the assigned flight and to coordinate appropriate security for the site.
They work directly with the missile combat crew to dispatch the ART to investigate alarms received from launch facilities.
Alert Response Team
Alert Response Teams (ART) are responsible for responding to alarms at all of their assigned launch facilities. They are dispatched by the FSC to alarms received by the Missile Combat Crew. The ART was also required conduct alarm system tests on selected facilities as requested by the Missile Command Crew (MCC).
Launch Facility Operations
Security Escort Team
Security Escort Team (SET) guards ride with every maintenance team to a missile Launch Facility. The SET guards' primary job is to protect the Launch Facility while it has technicians inside, since all of it's anti-intrusion gear has been bypassed. There are usually 2 SET guards armed with M-16's on a dispatching team.
Missile Escort Teams
Any nuclear weapons movement is secured by fire teams, 4 man groups that travel by helicopter and armored vehicles. These teams are heavily armed and provide security from the air and on the ground.
Response Force Flights.
The designation of Tiger teams was base specific. I believe Ellsworth AFB Response Force units where designated as Tiger Teams. FE Warren Response Force units were called Zebra Teams or Cobra Teams depending on their role. Cobra teams for convoy escort, and Zebra Teams when on 3 day field missile duty.
The Mobile Fire Teams in each Response Force Flight consisted of five four man teams, which in addition to Convoy Escort duties, were responsible for responding to situations where the ART and SRT teams where overwhelmed and needed the heavy firepower of the Mobile Fire Teams. They also provided additional perimeter security when maintenance was being done and any specific missile site and the blast doors where open.
The missile field was split up into four sectors. with One mobile fire team assigned to each sector during the day. The fifth fire team was responsible for patrolling the entire missile field at night.
Unlike the Alert Response Teams (ARTs) and Security Response Teams (SRTs) the Response Force Fire Teams where not assigned to any specific Launch Control Facility (LCF). They would remain over night (RON) at the nearest facility based on where they were in their sector at the end of their 12 hour shift.
If any major incident occurred at any specific missile site, the mobile fire teams would converge at a predetermined rendezvous point, where the flight chief would brief the units on the situation, establish a plan of attack and execute it.
The three Response Force Flights of the 88th Missile Security Squadron were also designated as the Air Base Ground Defense Flight and were the units that would be deployed if tasked. Each member had to maintain an "A bag" with all their gear ready for deployment at a moments notice.
Submitted by Robert Cruz.
Camper Alert Teams
Technology was not infallible and when it broke men had to fill the breach. At SAC Minuteman bases, these breaches were filled by Camper Alert Teams or CATs. SAC’s Minuteman missile wings were concentrated at six bases with each wing controlling 150 to 200 ICBMs located at remote launch facilities sometimes as far as 160 miles from the base. Each of these launch facilities was protected by electronic sensors and physical barriers and when the sensors failed, a two-man Security Police CAT was dispatched from the base to the site to provide security until the sensors could be repaired.
The CAT vehicle was similar to those seen on any weekend in parks and campgrounds nationwide—a camper mounted on a pickup. The two team members lived on-site in the camper for anywhere from two to three days and were equipped with weapons, ammo, “foil pack” TV-type dinners, water, and, in winter, a survival kit. CATs covered a lot of miles; in one quarter the CATs of the 321st SPG at Grand Forks were dispatched 80 times, driving 107,636 miles and using 13,910 gallons of gasoline. Once on site, the life of a CAT member was little better than one of the “Ramp Rats.” While one slept or relaxed, the other patrolled the launch facility in whatever weather nature came up with. It was “a lonely and monotonous job…” one observer noted with a sense of irony, which “never has been and never will be a picnic.”
(Exerpt from Defenders of the Force; The History of the US Air Force Security Forces 1947-2006 by James Lee Conrad and Jerry M. Bullock)