Global Strike Challenge 2010: Meet the Maintenance Group team members

  • Published
  • By Valerie Mullett
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office
Editor's Note: This is part two in a three-part series highlighting the 2010 Global Strike Challenge Teams. Part three will feature the security forces closer to their competition in November.

The second phase of the inaugural Global Strike Challenge competition will get underway at the three ICBM wings starting Monday. Among those being evaluated will be the missile maintenance personnel, who have four teams competing.

Beginning Monday, Sept. 20, the competition is on. Scores accumulated by the operators and the maintainers next week will be added to the scores earned by the security forces in November to determine the winner of the Blanchard Trophy. Malmstrom has captured the trophy for the past two competitions and looks to retain it for a third competition running, this time as the best in Air Force Global Strike Command.

Here is a look at the Maintenance Group representatives.

Facilities Maintenance Team
Led by newly promoted Staff Sgt. Kyle Babbert and trained by Tech. Sgt. Jorge Murillo, the Facilities Maintenance Team is ready to take the Global Strike Challenge. They are tasked with trouble shooting a new environmental control system so the increased training on this equipment will also increase their proficiency.

"Our job is extremely important to the mission because it ensures our system maintains the highest percent of on-alert status that is possible," said Sergeant Babbert. "Without our missiles on alert, our deterrent mission would fail."

Partnering with Sergeant Babbert for the competition is Senior Airman Charles Hinson, who has been a facilities maintenance technician for three years and says he is honored to have been selected for the chance to show his skill and proficiency while representing the 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron.

While he is not sure what to expect of the competition, he is confident in the team's talents.

"I am not sure what we are going to be specifically tasked on, but I am sure we will be adequately prepared for whatever the evaluators decide to throw at us," he said.

Training with them is Senior Airman Jonathan Branch. He would step in in the event one of the two primary competitors was unavailable. He looks at this competition as a knowledge-sharing opportunity.

"Competitions of this nature cause positive rivalry between bases to show who the best maintainers are," said Airman Branch. "They also let us find better procedures to perform maintenance when the competition is over and to share common knowledge between all the bases and competitors."

Electro-Mechanical Team
Selected to compete for the electro-mechanical team are Staff Sgt. Shawn Scrivener and Senior Airman James Kirby. Their alternate is Senior Airman Nicholas Nam.

Sergeant Scrivener has been "running the field" for three years and has been a team chief for more than a year. He "gets it" that perfection is the standard.

"I strive to make sure everything I do is to the best of my ability and exceeds the standards that are set forth," Sergeant Scrivener said. "I know the tasks that my team will be involved with (during the competition) are quite new and definitely need to be fine-tooth combed. This is the perfect time to do that."

"When you really think about it, this isn't necessarily just for us ... this is for anyone who will have to work on or with this system from today forward. That's why I feel that these competitions are so important," he said.

Airman Kirby was surprised at being selected to compete because he is a new field runner. But he is excited to be in the competition.

"I am very excited to be able to learn new things as well as to show what I learned in the few months of being a field runner and in training prior to this," Airman Kirby said. "I am looking forward to everything about this competition. The training is interesting and it is fun to be learning all the little details of the system itself - since it is relatively new, there is still much to learn about it in general."

Airman Nam is training alongside Sergeant Scrivener and Airman Kirby gaining additional skills and knowledge.

"By assisting in trouble shooting and educating ourselves with real-world faults that occur during this time, we are learning how the system works down to the nuts and bolts on everything we can," Airman Nam said.

Missile Communications Team
Four-year Malmstrom veteran Senior Airman Efrem Foster has been selected as the team chief for the missile communications team. He is leading Senior Airman Joshua Rutledge and alternate team-member Airman 1st Class Dajon Begin through training in preparation for their part of the Global Strike Challenge.

"I am honored, excited and nervous," Airman Foster said of his selection. "The 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron at Malmstrom has a long, proud history of producing the best missile maintainers in the ICBM community. I want my work to reflect that."

In trying to maintain that reputation, the team has their own way of getting themselves ready for the evaluators.

"We are quizzing each other on our systems knowledge by reading through the books and doing every 'what if' situation we possibly can," Airman Rutledge said. "We are also having our trainer scrutinize our every movement."

"We are studying hard, practicing procedures, quizzing one another and doing homework, as well," Airman Begin added.

As for what the competition brings to the table for them, all agreed the knowledge sharing was essential.

"I feel competitions like this are important to bring a sense of pride to the work we do," Airman Rutledge said.

The members of the missile communications team were selected through a try-out process.

Missile Handling Team
The missile handling team is the largest of the maintenance group teams competing with four regular team members and one alternate.

Leading the way is Staff Sgt. Markus Maar as the team chief, with Senior Airman Brad Christensen and Airmen 1st Class Brent Schiermann and Matt St. Clair rounding out the foursome. Senior Airman Steven Orzech is the MHT alternate.

The group has spent many hours in the last several weeks at the T-9 training facility, honing their skills on what they believe they will be tested on during the competition next week - pre missile pull and post missile emplace procedures.

"The importance of job proficiency in the strategic deterrence mission is on the top of my list," Sergeant Maar said. "I am extremely honored to do this because I am a new team chief."

"It is critical to stay proficient so we can keep this weapon system at 100 percent, 100 percent of the time," said Airman Schiermann.

Thorough and detailed on-the-job training, reoccurring training and regular evaluations play a key role in maintaining proficiency, said Airman St. Clair, who credits Sergeant Maar for bringing a consistent, motivated, winning, can-do attitude "that infects the entire team and pushes us all to work harder no matter what the circumstance" to the training arena.

Airman Orzech has the challenge of learning all of the jobs his teammates are performing in order to be able to fill in for any one of them if called upon.

"While I am only the back-up guy for the team, I feel proud to represent my base and my team as best I can," Airman Orzech said. "This has turned out to be a great experience."

With training time winding down and the actual competition just days away, Airman Schiermann can't wait for it to happen.

"The part of the competition I am most looking forward to," said Airman Schiermann, "is the moment the judges say 'time' and we know we owned it!"