by Maj Bruce R. Hill, Jr.
Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center
8/27/2015 - KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Knowledge
can make for positive change and strengthen an organization. The Air
Force Nuclear Weapons Center Force Improvement Program team is gaining
knowledge through the exchange of information with units throughout the
center, strengthening relationships with missile and bomber wing
In June, the AFNWC FIP team met with members of the 90th Missile
Maintenance Squadron at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, to gain an
understanding of how Air Force Materiel Command supports
intercontinental ballistic missile maintenance, and how AFNWC can better
support its customers. The effort supports the AFNWC commander's intent
to improve the force.
"By shadowing a maintenance team we got a first-hand look into their
day-to-day operations," said Capt. Michael J. Parker, Physicist and
Nuclear Engineer and FIP team volunteer. "We got to learn what works for
them and what doesn't."
It all started in 2014 when AFNWC leadership and the original FIP team
discussed the benefit of talking with the customer in person to see how
AFNWC could better support them.
Traveling to the Cowboy State was both helpful and enlightening with
respect to better understanding the customer. Although issues exist that
are not in AFNWC's purview, some can be handled by the center. For
example, an issue brought up by the 90th Maintenance Group regarding
sensor problems gave the team insight as to what really happens when
water seeps into missile silos.
"When water collects around a sensor, an alarm will alert six personnel
to be dispatched," said Capt. Jordan K. Tabayoyon, 90th MMXS facilities
flight commander. "The response to this alarm is priority one, which
means we must respond as soon as possible to determine the issue. To do
so requires us to divert personnel and resources already scheduled for
Since 2013, teams were dispatched 42 times only to find that the alerts were caused by negligible amounts of water seepage.
"We contacted the missile engineering office at F.E. Warren who's in
charge of that modification and tied them in with the Rivet MILE teams
at Hill AFB, Utah, to reconsider the water sensor locations," said Kent
T. Hyer, Ground Division Mechanical Branch chief and FIP team member
located at Hill AFB.
Now that the connection is made between the two organizations,
relationships develop that foster cooperation and understanding. This
allows the FIP team to move into a monitoring position until the issue
with the sensors becomes rectified.
More than a dozen observations were made by the FIP team, some of which
led to rapid results such as the restored function of an Air Launch
Control System antennae and Fast-Rising B-Plug. The team will work
similar issues and keep the AFNWC commander apprised of status, such as
with the water sensors.
Additionally, the FIP team will share its observations with Air Force
Global Strike Command, the 90th MMXS's major command, for its
"It is results like these that I expect from the FIP team, because we
have a responsibility to the warfighter (customer)," said Maj. Gen.
Sandra E. Finan, AFNWC commander. "The FIP team sometimes has to dig
deep to get to the root of an issue, which includes meeting with the
warfighter. By doing so, we help ensure they get the quality products
and services they expect and deserve from us."