Operations commanders stand alert together

90th Operations Group squadron commanders (from left) Lt. Col. Michael Suden, 90 OSS commander, Lt. Col. Amy Grant, 320 MS commander, Lt. Col. Robert Mack, 319 MS commander, and Lt. Col. Katherine Mack, 321 MS commander stand in front of the India-01 Missile Alert Facility outside Sidney, Neb., April 9. The commanders all pulled alert together as part of a four-person crew April 2 - 9 to bolster the pride of being in the 13N career field from a senior leader’s perspective. Courtesy photo

INDIA-01 MISSILE ALERT FACILITY, Neb. – In an unprecedented endeavor, all four 90th Operations Group squadron commanders pulled alert at the India-01 Missile Alert Facility, April 2 – 9 near Sidney, Nebraska.

Lieutenant Colonels Robert Mack, Amy Grant, Katherine Mack and Michael Suden, commanders of the 319th, 320th, 321st Missile Squadron and the Operations Support Squadron, respectively, presented this idea to Col. Tytonia Moore, 90th Operations Group Commander, with the intent to bolster the pride of being in the 13N career field from a senior leader’s perspective and to demonstrate enthusiasm for pulling nuclear alerts as a four-person crew.

The idea became reality as they planned to stand alert at the alternate command post for the 90th Missile Wing: India-01.  The ACP Launch Control Center is typically the most intense and demanding capsule to pull alert, according to Moore and, under the current deployment construct, they would be there for an entire week together.

“For those seven days, no matter what time of day you called, if you had called the Alternate Command Post at India-01, you’d have spoken to a sitting operations squadron commander,” said Moore.

During the week, Katherine Mack and Grant were the A1 crew, serving in the capsule during the day shift, while Robert Mack and Suden were the A2 crew, serving in the capsule during the night shift. 

Four-person crews were not typical before COVID-19, but even before the changes brought on by the pandemic, two squadron commanders pulling alert together was unheard of, according to Robert Mack. However, the leadership team saw this as a perfect opportunity to show their personnel that they were willing to do the job that they ask their subordinates to do every day. 

“When a young missileer sees a squadron commander standing alert like this, it shows their commitment and willingness to sacrifice right along with their troops,” said Moore. “These commanders standing alert together epitomizes leading from the front from a tactical, operational, and strategic level.”

It was a sentiment echoed by the commanders.

“At least for myself, I wanted to show the crew force and those around the business that squadron commanders are willing to be in the trenches with our folks,” said Robert Mack. “Even though I don’t go to the field nearly as often as my people, when I do go, it’s important for me to live the same life they do so I can learn what’s good in the field as well as what  needs improvement.”

 Though there were risks of consolidating leadership in one location, it was ultimately decided that a unique opportunity presented itself because of COVID-19 and that the benefits to the broader 13N community messaging was considered a greater good, according to Moore.

“We weighed the risks of having all four commanders out in the field at the same time and decided the long term benefits of their demonstrating an all-in attitude and leadership from the front was worth the risk,” said Moore.

While not part of the decision- making process, another personal bonus to Grant and Robert Mack was the completion of “MAF Bingo”: achieving the goal of pulling an alert at all 15 MAF sites in the 90th Missile Wing.

Even though the effort by these commanders may have been something not seen before, there was still a strong sentiment that it was the troops that do this every day that deserve the credit.

“Our missileers, facility managers, defenders and chefs spend upwards of half of every month in the field,” said Robert Mack. “These airmen who do this job day in and day out inspire me to come to work each day.”

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