Try walking down a different career path
By Master Sgt. Edward North, 341st Operations Group
/ Published April 19, 2007
MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --
They maintain a watchful vigil at remote facilities located across the rugged, wind-swept prairies of Montana. From across the Air Force, these men and women come to put their unique experiences and skill sets to the challenge. Currently, 74 silent warriors operate and maintain the 341st Space Wing's 20 missile alert facilities. But there's always room for more.
They are individuals from more than 25 different Air Force specialties, but they all stepped up to become Missile Alert Facility managers in the 8S000 special-duty identifier. Volunteer MAF managers come from a wide range of professional backgrounds such as aircraft maintenance personnel and chaplains assistants to fuels specialists and civil engineers. You could be included in the mix, as well.
They all volunteered to serve a four-year controlled tour and each has their own reason for seeking out this extraordinary assignment. Many enjoy outdoor activities and the wide-open spaces of Montana. Some want an opportunity to broaden their career and learn more about inter continental ballistic missile operations. Others like the stability this special duty assignment offers for their families. What potential does this assignment offer you?
Additionally, there are many opportunities for these MAF managers to pursue higher levels of education, be entrusted with additional leadership responsibilities and receive recognition for outstanding performance. Are you looking for that challenge?
You may ask yourself what duties do MAF managers perform?
First and foremost, they serve as their missile squadron commanders' representative at the remote facility, and as the eyes and ears for the missile combat crew on alert 70 feet below them. Since the MAFs are small, self-sufficient complexes that house power generation, water treatment and environmental control equipment, a MAF manager shoulders the smooth operations of these functions as well. They deploy to their site for 72-hour alerts and they average three to four alerts per month; about 45 alerts every year. They wear many different hats -- sometimes serving as maintenance technicians, working with base agencies to inspect and troubleshoot equipment. At other times, they could be performing snow removal tasks, testing site water for impurities, responding to an emergency or completing a self-help project. Their roles are essential to the wing's mission.
One of our newest MAF Managers is Staff Sgt. Shawn O'Grady of the 490th Missile Squadron who's been here about six months. I asked him what he felt was the most challenging aspect of his job. Not surprisingly, he told me that managing the needs of all the people was the hardest.
"Managing what the missile combat crew, security forces, facility chef and transient maintenance personnel that may reside at the MAF need ... with so many different personalities and requirements it can be difficult to keep everything running smoothly and the facility in inspection order, too," he said. "Getting accustomed to the work schedule was challenging also. It took a few months for my family to adjust because it's much different from my work schedule as a liquid fuels technician."
I then asked him what he most enjoyed about his new assignment and what was the greatest change from a personal viewpoint.
"I spend more time with my family and can study for promotion during my off-duty time," he said. "I'm also enjoying the change of perspective from the standpoint of the mission. I've learned a lot about ICBM operations in a very short period of time."
If you summarize his thoughts, you come up with challenging but rewarding.
This quick snapshot of life as a MAF manager is brief, but I am ready to share more information with anyone interested in the career field. Perhaps you're considering your career options right now. If so, I can tell you, morale among the MAF manager community runs, high and we are always looking for volunteers wanting a permanent change of assignment.
Maybe it's time you tried doing something different; a change of scenery may be just what you need. New opportunities and challenges await so give me a call at area code 731-4035 and let's talk some more. You might be amazed at what you find when you dare to walk down a different path.