Facilitating a no-fail mission

Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Falks, 12th Missile Squadron operations superintendent, poses for a photo June 4, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Falks, 12th Missile Squadron operations superintendent, poses for a photo June 4, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. As the operations superintendent, Falks is in charge of all the missile alert facility managers in the squadron who maintain the grounds, structure and equipment that supports each MAF. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heather Heiney)


When it comes to intercontinental ballistic missiles, failure is not an option. As the 12th Missile Squadron operations superintendent, Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Falks helps facilitate the wing’s no-fail mission by running the squadron’s missile alert facility management program.

MAFs are at the very center of the ICBM mission. Each facility houses a launch control capsule where missileers spend 24 hours at a time below ground. There, they keep the Minuteman IIIs on target, monitor alarms at the launch facilities, and stay prepared to respond to an order at any moment to employ the most powerful weapon system in human existence.

In addition to the missileers, MAFs also house the security forces members who protect those ICBMs and a force support squadron chef who feeds everyone there.

Missile alert facility managers keep those MAFs running. FMs are in charge of everything to do with the MAF itself. They make sure all necessary supplies are in stock and perform general maintenance and upkeep of the facility. They even plow the snow in the winter and cut the grass in the summer. They run through daily checklists and ensure that all the equipment that supports the mission in each MAF is operational.

“The FMs, more than ever, can make or break a tour for everyone at the MAF,” said Maj. Jesse Haskett, 12th MS director of operations. “They ensure that the security forces and operations personnel can properly recover after a shift and maintain resiliency for their next shift. They also play an informal leadership role with the security forces Airmen and the chefs.”

Falks said that while he posts out to the field to perform FM duties when necessary, most of his time is spent taking care of all the other FMs in the squadron. This could include building the schedule, overseeing training and performing general administrative duties.

This role became even more complex when COVID-19 reached Montana and the way the 341st Missile Wing’s no-fail mission was carried out had to change.

Falks was one of the Airmen who went out to the field for two weeks during the initial lockdown of the local area. Due to the nature of COVID-19 and the constant flux of new information, for several months the changes kept coming.

Over time, there was a significant transformation in how Airmen deploy to the missile fields, which sites they go to, how long they stay there and what their roles are in the squadron when they’re not out in the field.

“Falks has made a huge difference by leading our facility managers through a very difficult 15 months,” Haskett said. “He has been crucial to communicating the rationale for changes that affect our enlisted force, especially some changes that were not initially popular.”

Before he accepted his current special duty assignment here at Malmstrom, Falks was one of the “Dirt Boyz.” He joined the Air Force as a heavy equipment operator in the civil engineer career field where he was stationed at Pope, Hickam and Moody Air Force Bases. He also completed a short tour at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea and deployed seven times – three times to Iraq, three times to Afghanistan and once to Qatar.

“From the many different countries I’ve gotten to go to and the many different people I’ve had the privilege to work with, I’m sure that I’m a much better person for it,” Falks said. “We have some great Airmen that work to get the job done and for the most part always look out for each other.”

According to Falks, one time in particular his fellow Airmen looked out for him was when one of his children was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder a few years ago.

“The Air Force and, more specifically, my command at the time made sure I was able to stay with my child as much as possible in the hospital while we were going through the diagnosis phase and then working to find a good treatment,” he said.

The doctors told his family there were two medications that could help with his child’s condition, but the more effective of the two was expensive and most insurance providers wouldn’t approve it. However, Tricare did approve the medication, which allowed his child to stay on that medication until the disease went into remission.

“The support that we received from my squadron and the blessing of not having to worry about the money side of the situation made a difficult time in our lives much easier,” Falks said.

Haskett said that Falks volunteered to share this story with the entire squadron to reinforce that the Air Force demands a lot at times, but it will also take care of its Airmen and their families without hesitation.

“Falks has a work ethic and a way with people that drives me to be a better officer and person in general,” Haskett said. “In short, he’s the kind of guy I joined the service to work with.”

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.