F.E. Warren Air Force Base is tasked with one of the highest priority missions in the Department of Defense: to defend America with the world’s premier combat-ready ICBM force. A mission this important requires top-notch Airmen and defenders in the field every day, providing air and ground support and security.
Staff Sgt. Kristen Witherspoon, a member of the 890th Missile Security Operations Squadron, is one of these defenders.
Witherspoon wanted to take her commitment of defending the 90th Missile Wing’s assets to the next level, so she made the commitment and tried out for the 90th Missile Security Operations Squadron’s Tactical Response Force. The TRF is a rapid-deployed, specialized security forces team on alert 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The force trains extensively on small unit tactics, urban combat, assaulting sites from helicopters and close-quarters combat. These Defenders provide a quick-reaction force for convoys and base emergencies by performing armed air patrols over the 9,600 square-mile missile field.
“It means a lot to me to be able to defend the mission here,” said Witherspoon. “Now that I am a part of TRF, I will be able to physically defend the missiles with people I train with all the time, and that makes me proud.”
The first part of becoming a member of TRF is a physically demanding baseline evaluation. Witherspoon passed this evaluation by running an 800-meter sprint, dragging a 150-pound mannequin 50 meters, performing five or more dead-hang pull-ups, climbing a 14-foot rope, rucking four miles and successfully breaching a pinned door – all within 90 minutes. As if that wasn’t hard enough, Witherspoon had to complete the evaluation in full gear: a helmet and body armor with level four plates.
After passing the evaluation, Witherspoon was selected to attend a four-week TRF orientation. During this time, she was tested on her leadership and followership abilities, communicative ability, learning comprehension, physical stamina, problem-solving and mental fortitude. The orientation course puts stress on the body and mind to simulate high-risk tactical response scenarios and to ensure Airmen can make good decisions while in high-risk situations.
At the completion of the orientation course, Witherspoon graduated as a member of TRF. However, before becoming an active member of the unit, she will attend an advanced gunfighter course and an advanced tactical course. Both of these courses are designed to test the skills Airmen learn in the orientation course. Finally, Witherspoon will participate in a duty-position evaluation and a TRF log run to earn her talon number and become an active member of TRF.
“Staff Sergeant Witherspoon has done a great job throughout the evaluations and training courses so far and her hard work and determination shows every day,” said Master Sgt. Michael Kessler, 90 MSOS TRF flight chief. “The rigorous training is not modified for females and Witherspoon is only one of a small portion of females that have made it onto TRF, which makes her performance that much more impressive.”
While graduating from these courses and becoming a member of TRF is an accomplishment for any Airman; Witherspoon is the only female of the base in the past three years to graduate the orientation course.
“I’m proud that I was able to become a part of TRF, and it makes me want to encourage other females to branch out and try out,” said Witherspoon. “After accomplishing this, I want to be able to motivate other females and make them want to give this a try too.”
As an official member of the rapid-deployed TRF, Witherspoon will provide air and ground support and security for the mission here.
Story by Airman 1st Class Sarah Post, 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs