Missile Mishap Response Team trains, focuses on future

  • Published
  • By R. Nial Bradshaw, 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – When it comes to mishap response and preparedness, training exercises are important, especially in the military, where the phrase “train like you fight” is routinely put into practice.

This is why a highly specialized team of military members and civilians with the Minuteman III Systems Directorate and 309th Missile Maintenance Group here with a contracted support team recently conducted a Missile Maintenance Response Team, or MMRT, exercise.

The training covered safely and effectively responding to a hypothetical situation involving the containment of a hazardous liquid inside an ICBM missile guidance system.

Tech. Sgt. Ryan Martin, Minuteman III Systems Directorate NCO in charge of field support and requirements, said it’s important to train for such “unlikely” scenarios.

The MMRT is on-call 24/7, 365 days a year, to respond to any number of situations involving an ICBM (except the warhead) where technical procedures do not exist, or the loss of life is possible.

“There are a lot of safety procedures involved with what we do, and we try to get the most realistic training possible for the team,” Martin said. “The team responds to what is essentially an industrial accident, but because it’s a weapon system, you can’t have just anyone respond.”

The Minuteman III Systems Directorate along with the 309th Missile Maintenance Group are responsible for maintaining and sustaining the Air Force’s Minuteman III weapon system.

The units regularly hold MMRT response exercises, including one this spring simulating a response to an emergency involving a solid booster and transporter, which is a mobile vehicle used to move rockets and other launch systems.

The exercises give the MMRT the opportunity to train in a safe and realistic environment, while refining different communication processes and procedures, and includes involving geographically separated members of the team.

“These exercises give us the opportunity to identify and address constraints and are critical to building relationships with our mission partners,” said Paul Sears, 582nd Missile Maintenance Squadron liquid propulsion flight chief. “They also serve as an opportunity for the team to work in the protective gear they would wear in a real-world response.”

The MMRT has an integral role in supporting the Minuteman III weapons system and will eventually transition to the new LGM-35A Sentinel, as the Air Force works to replace the 50-year-old Minuteman III.

The Minuteman III is fielded at Air Force Global Strike Command bases located in Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota, but officials said the team can respond anywhere they are needed.