Detachment 460 is the largest field
detachment of HQ Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) and the only detachment with three distinct mission areas.
Primarily, Det. 460 operates and maintains the largest and
northernmost seismic network in the United States Atomic Energy Detection
Secondly, the detachment operates and maintains a network of
gaseous and particulate air sampling units to detect airborne signatures of
Lastly, it is a field backup to AFTAC's operations center
for analysis of foreign nuclear weapons tests. Stretching from Point Barrow
above the Arctic Circle, to the Canadian border and to the most distant
Aleutian Island of Attu, Det. 460's area of responsibility comprises a vast and
unique set of challenges with the varied geography, climate and cultures of the
largest state in the Union.
The detachment has a long and distinguished history at
Eielson. Its roots derive from several AFTAC detachments originally scattered
across the Last Frontier.
At its height, there were six detachments and about 200
AFTAC people in Alaska.
Detachment 460 is located at Eielson Air Force Base, 26 miles southeast of Fairbanks in the heart of the Alaskan interior.
Hosted by the 354th Fighter Wing, Det. 460 is the largest and most varied detachment of its type in the command.
Operationally, Det. 460 is controlled by the Air Force Technical Applications Center and administratively, it is directed by the 692nd Intelligence Group, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. MISSION
Its overall mission is to conduct nuclear treaty monitoring through seismic and atmospheric data collection and/ or analysis for national command authorities and to conduct information warfare operations for U. S. and allied warfighters. Supporting the most comprehensive seismic facility in the United States Atomic Energy Detection System, Det. 460 maintains a network of gaseous and particulate air sampling units and seismic arrays stretching from above the Arctic Circle to Canada and the farthest Aleutian Island of Attu. In addition, the unit mission includes an Information Warfare element which conducts telecommunications monitoring and communications exploitation training.
Det. 460 has a long and distinguished history in the service of the United States Atomic Energy Detection System. Its roots are actually derived from several AFOAT-1 and AFTAC detachments which were scattered across the "Last Frontier." During the 1950's, there were six detachments and approximately 200 personnel in Alaska. Air sampling operations conducted in Alaska in the late 1940's provided the first confirmation that the Russians had exploded an atomic bomb. Daily "surveillance" sampling flights were flown from Eielson for the next 25 years using WB-50, WB-47E, WC-130 and WC-135 aircraft. Also during the 1950's, a field laboratory and an air operations section, Team 202-Western Field Operations, were established at what was then known as "Mile 26," and additional ground system sites were established throughout the state.
Years following, the unit was renamed Detachment 202 and played a key role in operations against Russian atmospheric tests conducted in the late 1950's and early 1960's. The mid-1960's brought an expansion of Det. 202's mission and deactivation of four other detachments in Alaska Det. 202 began to conduct daily missions flown from Alaska to Europe and into the Far East. In support of these air operations, the detachment maintained and operated an analytical radiological laboratory and aircraft sample recovery facility for the next 30 years. With nuclear response expertise, Det. 202 was also responsible for six geographically separated ground-based atmospheric sampling units. During the 1970's, a ground site operation was consolidated with Detachment 202's operations. The detachment was renamed Detachment 460 in 1976, with operations remaining constant until 1992 when an Information Warfare mission was incorporated. Laboratory operations were terminated in 1996, following an era of exciting international progress in gaining signatories on worldwide nuclear treaties. Det. 460 maintains 45 seismic sites in seven arrays across Alaska. The farthest site is located 9,000 miles away. Each site location provides a valuable geological view of the world-wide seismic activity, but also presents unique challenges in transportation and personal protection.
The geological data gathered is the largest single combined data feed to the USAEDS. This data is also shared with the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, a close relationship extending even beyond the seismic mission boundaries. Det. 460 seismic technicians also maintain six geographically separated ground-based atmospheric sampling units. Two automatic cryogenic rectifiers collect gaseous samples; ground filter units collect particulate samples. They also conduct very limited support of TC-135 operations.
The Information Warfare Securities office primarily supports the 354th FW and Pacific Air Force's Aerial Combat Exercise COPE THUNDER. Providing CET and Communications Security/ Operations Security information, the detachment's people train aircrews and support personnel on wartime threats and countermeasures.
The operational environment presents unique challenges. Snowfall begins in early October and remains until the end of May. The temperature during this time varies from above 40 to negative 65 degrees Fahrenheit, offering multiple challenges to personal protection.
Long underwear, parkas and mukluks are daily necessities. With daylight declining through Dec. 21, the detachment has approximately 30 minutes of daylight in the deep winter.
During the summer, Alaska becomes the "land of the midnight sun." Gaining daylight until June 21, midnight looks like 1 p. m. in the continental United States. The mosquitoes, casually referred to as the state bird, are ever-present. The unique challenges at Detachment 460 create an environment of opportunities. The detachment looks forward to meeting each one head-on with the motto that symbolizes their Information Warfare mission: "In God we trust. All others we monitor, jam, or deceive."
The Technical Operations Division is the second largest associate unit on McClellan Air Force Base, Calif., and the largest subordinate unit of the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.
TOD's vision is to be the lead global organization performing nuclear and environmental trace minerals analysis and systems support while conducting an effective transition.
Their mission is to provide timely, accurate products and services for nuclear and environmental materials collection and analysis to enhance U. S. military preparedness, national policy making and treaty monitoring while planning and implementing transition activities. The unit also supports all material collection functions of the U. S. Atomic Energy Detection System.
TOD is comprised of three directorates:
• McClellan Central Laboratory
• Mission Resources and Systems
• Logistics and Engineering
The McClellan Central Laboratory provides trace-level analyses of nuclear and environmental samples.
The Mission Resources and Systems Directorate manages the communication and computer operations, contracting, facilities, budget management, security and information management support functions.
In the Logistics and Engineering Directorate, personnel conduct engineering, maintenance and supply operations for the laboratory systems and the sampling equipment in the worldwide U. S. Atomic Energy Detection System. They also manage the base closure-related transition planning team.
The unit's support functions include environmental protection, radiation safety, ground safety, training, manpower, personnel, information and facilities management and first sergeant involvement to ensure successful operations and compliance with regulations.
Although TOD's main customer is AFTAC, other customers include the worldwide detachments, Department of Energy laboratories, the Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations and Great Britain's Atomic Weapons Establishment. The unit will be transformed by the July 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission decision to close McClellan Air Force Base by July 2001. Although timetables and transition details are still being developed, TOD will continue to provide quality products and services while effectively transitioning the process and equipment that AFTAC needs to continue its treaty monitoring missions.
TOD mission operations began in 1948 with the 1009th Special Weapons Squadron and established to detect nuclear weapon tests worldwide. Between 1948 and 1950, the 1009th sent personnel on temporary duty to McClellan Air Force Base to work with the 55th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron on airborne sampling missions using WB-29 and WB-50 aircraft. This was the beginning of TOD's worldwide aerial sampling operations.
In 1950, the Western Field Office, a permanent branch of the 1009th SES, was created at McClellan Air Force Base to conduct laboratory analysis of airborne debris. During the 1960's, the growing worldwide mission of the 1009th
was transferred to the 1035th U. S. Air Force Field Activities Group. The Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963 resulted in an enormous expansion of workload, and WFO, renamed the 1155th Technical Operations Squadron in 1960, reached its peak strength of 1,500 people.
By the late 1970's, technology and a reduced workload enabled the 1155th to streamline operations and eliminate redundant systems; manpower decreased to approximately 500 personnel. Major modernization programs were undertaken to exploit modern, sophisticated instrumentation and lab techniques. Recognizing the increasing complexity and importance of the unit's mission, the Air Force upgraded the unit to a division in 1984 and named it the Technical Operations Division. In 1988, the Russell Building was dedicated as a modern facility to house the McClellan Central Laboratory and the Operations, Computer-Communications Systems, Logistics and Executive Support directorates. The $18 million building won an award for architectural design for building aesthetics in the Air Force's annual new building facility design competition. For nearly half a century, TOD has sustained a reputation for producing world class results. Notable among its many accomplishments was the division's participation in sampling and analysis of debris from the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor accident.
The division has been a dedicated member of McClellan Air Force Base and the Sacramento community. For over 28 years, TOD people have sponsored Child-A-Smile, a program which helps physically and mentally challenged children in Sacramento schools. TOD's blood drives have received awards form Sacramento county officials and the Adopt-A-School mentoring program enables the unit's highly trained and educated members to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with community youth. Acknowledging these efforts, Sacramento civic leaders presented TOD with the Sacramento Volunteer Activist Award, the first time the award was given to an Air Force unit.
Today, the 309- member unit continues to provide logistics support for complex systems around the world, laboratory analysis to support treaty monitoring commitments and worldwide atmospheric sampling support.