Malmstrom’s man of many hats
By Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson, 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 18, 2019
MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Throughout Malmstrom’s 13,800 square-mile missile complex, Airmen navigate through small towns and gravel roads everyday to accomplish Air Force Global Strike Command’s mission of providing long range, precision strike capabilities.
Whether it’s a defender, missile alert facility manager or a missileer, everyone is vital to the intercontinental ballistic missile mission. One Malmstrom Airman has had an opportunity to serve in numerous roles in the missile complex.
Second Lt. Clay Barnard, 12th Missile Squadron ICBM combat crew deputy, has served as a missile defender, facility manager and missileer.
Barnard’s first encounter with missiles came at his first duty station at Aviano Air Force Base, Italy, as a security forces member.
“I learned a lot about the deterrence mission at Aviano because of their NATO partnerships and munitions sites,” said Barnard. “I helped control the assets they needed to load and unload.”
Following his tour in Italy, Barnard received orders to come to Malmstrom, assigned to the 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron.
“My time in Italy made it an easier transition for me to come here,” said Barnard. “Having already worked with a Personnel Reliability Program mission made me understand the mission here better.”
As a missile security forces member, defenders are responsible for guarding launch facilities, security installations and its personnel, as well as protecting high-valued assets during transport.
He enjoyed his time as a defender because it helped him understand his role in the mission.
“Early on in my career, I had great leaders who helped me understand my role in the mission,” said Barnard. “Because of this, I’ve been able to help others learn theirs and build a relationship with them. Every job is vital to our mission and knowing your role helps accomplish the job.”
After a year of serving as a defender, Barnard transitioned into a special duty assignment: missile alert FM.
FM is a special duty assignment that active duty personnel can apply for. The job of a FM is to maintain the upkeep and operational effectiveness of the MAFs.
“I made connections with the FMs and saw the work they did and I knew that was something I wanted to pursue,” said Barnard. “I also wanted to take on a new challenge.”
For Barnard, maintaining a MAF is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.
“I was taught early on as a FM to make the MAF reflect yourself,” said Barnard. “How the MAF is ran and presented reflects on you and how well you take care of the place. There’s a sense of pride and ownership when caring for a facility.”
While it had been a thought since he joined the Air Force, Barnard’s time as an FM reaffirmed his passion to become a commissioned officer. In March of 2018, he was selected to attend Officer Training School at Maxwell AFB, Alabama.
“Prior to submitting your package for OTS, you are allowed a few choices for jobs and ICBM combat crew was my number one,” said Barnard. “After spending several years at the MAFs and building rapport with the missileers, I knew this was something I wanted to do and I was fortunate to receive the job.”
After graduating OTS, Barnard attended his technical school at Vandenberg AFB, California, where following his training, found out he would be returning to Malmstrom.
Now performing his third different job at Malmstrom, Barnard is presented with a new challenge as a missileer.
“Being a striker is about providing rapid combat capability for our ICBM forces holding our adversaries at bay,” said Barnard. “We embody constant readiness, which we put forward every day, always ready to act upon a moment’s notice.”
Although Barnard took a longer route to commissioning, he gives credit to his previous experiences.
“My previous jobs helped me understand my role and pushed me to get here today,” said Barnard. “I wouldn’t be here today without the development I had as a defender and FM.”