MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. —
On July 10, 2023, the 91st Missile Wing kicked off Operation Bully Stick, which generated the largest missile movement in 10 years.
Operation Bully Stick is an operation in which the 91st MW aims to load an intercontinental ballistic missile into a launch facility as safely, efficiently, and quickly as possible.
For Operation Bully Stick, Team Minot set out to demonstrate ICBM agile combat employment with rapid nuclear generation capability in support of United States Strategic Command while integrating total force support.
Agile combat employment is usually a term that is paired with deployments of aircraft across multiple theaters. Major Zachary Jones, director of the Wing Operations Center at the 91st MW, sets out to prove that his Airmen are ACE capable, and ready to face any challenges that oppose them.
“If our command shows our ICBMs can be agile, it affects our adversaries in some way,” said Jones. “What we are proving with this operation is while the weapon system is not intrinsically agile, it’s capabilities can be. If our near peer adversaries have plans that are to respond to our current capabilities of the ICBM, we are hopefully changing their calculus.”
Jones says he sees ACE as a proactive and reactive maneuver. He says he aims to have his Airmen execute mission goals within strict timelines in order to deter our adversaries.
Operation Bully Stick is typically completed over a three-day period, often over the course of several weeks. This time however, Jones says his team aimed to complete a full silo load in a 24-hour period.
Operation Bully Stick was completed within the timeline with time to spare, but only with the full support of the wing and other outside entities. The 219th Security Forces Squadron provided assistance and manpower in order to complete the goals for the exercise. Their assistance is providing the 91st Security Forces Group the ability to fully embed their defenders into the exercise.
Senior Airman Samantha Hughes, missile security operator for the 91st Missile Security Forces Squadron, says it was a great opportunity to see maintenance and defenders work together to get the mission done in a timely manner.
“It was really unique to see all this unfold so quickly,” said Hughes. “My part of the mission was to provide defense and overwatch for the maintenance crews. It went smoothly, and I’m very proud of my teammates and I.”
Jones says Operation Bully Stick is unlike other exercises since this operation showcased Team Minot’s ability to generate to alert status as if in a wartime environment.
“A typical job of this nature may take anywhere from three days to 2 weeks, we completed the task in 18 hours,” said Jones. “Additionally, we were enabled in our efforts from the 219 SFS, a North Dakota National Guard Unit certified to defend our nation’s nuclear assets.”
Jones says this is a special case of showcasing an ICBM unit’s capability to generate full nuclear power without losing capability in other capacities, making it a true total force integration operation.
“The Airmen were able to complete the mission,” said Jones. “It highlighted the tenacity, focus and resolve our young maintainers, defenders, operators as well as supporting agencies across all of Team Minot.”