In the field with Malmstrom’s facility managers

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
To support and maintain all of Malmstrom Air Force Base's facilities takes an extraordinary amount of work. Attention to detail is a must to keep systems running smoothly and with everything that needs to be done, teamwork is essential. For some people, this mission comes with a set of challenges most others don't have to deal with and a level of responsibility some would not want to have.

Yet, even with these challenges, these men and women take pride knowing they accomplish a very important mission every single day.

These people are missile alert facility managers.

The role of a facility manager at Malmstrom is to provide constant watch and upkeep for 15 missile alert facilities, otherwise known as MAFs, which are spread throughout Malmstrom's 13,800 square-mile missile complex. These facilities are key pieces to a global deterrence system which provides every American citizen with protection and ensures our nation's way of life.

"The sense of accomplishment with my job is very high," said Staff Sgt. David Golab, 12th Missile Squadron facility manager. "You have to own this. We don't see our leadership every day so we have to take initiative in what we do and make it happen. There's a lot of projects that you can take up. Recently, my team and I took up a remodeling project at our MAF where we replaced all of the outdated décor and repainted all the walls to give the place a little more of a modern look. There are always things we can do to make this place better. Everything from lawn care to reorganization of the tools we use helps.

"As for the time we spend on station, we are usually out here about three to four days at once," he added. "A normal tour starts at headquarters around seven in the morning. From there we gather our supplies and head out to the facility. When we are deployed to the missile field the average time we will actually spend the night at the facility is three days. On the fourth, the incoming FM will take over and the whole process starts over to form a continuous loop."

While facility managers are deployed to the missile field, their list of responsibilities is almost endless. As soon as they arrive on station, a daily checklist must be completed to ensure every support system and piece of equipment is running smoothly. Aside from the general upkeep needed to maintain a facility which can sustain more than 10 people for an extended period of time, in depth security procedures must be upheld to ensure the safety of all personnel and the system itself.

Some of the skills an FM is required to have knowledge of are plumbing, heating systems, electrical systems, carpentry and small-engine maintenance. Even though the facility is based state-side and is not in a deployed environment, support from external sources is hard to come by. The average time for a team to reach their station is two hours with the farthest complexes being more than three hours away from base.

If something breaks, the FM needs to have the ability to know how to fix it. Tools for everything from plumbing to lawn care are housed in a garage which also serves as a shop where vehicles can be repaired. In severe situations, qualified contractors are contacted for assistance.

During the winter months, even the tasks that may seem to be simple can provide Airmen with a challenge. Cold temperatures make outside work difficult and snow accumulation makes mobility challenging. A strong will to succeed is needed to be proficient and a respect for the environment greatly reduces the risk that comes with the territory.

"Every day there's something new," Golab said. "It has its ups and downs but I love what I do. I have about a year left being a facility manager and I know that when I leave I'm going to miss it."