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Around The Fleet

Training Part of the Triad

Navy trains Sailors supporting America's nuclear deterrence force.

A vital component of the nation's nuclear deterrence watch is the E-6B Mercury Airborne Command Post. Its main mission is to provide a survivable communications link to the Navy's fleet of ballistic submarines.

Often times a thankless and behind-the-scenes job, many of the Sailors assigned this task say deterring nuclear war is a reward in itself.

"As I like to say, you don't get credit for not getting nuked today," said Lt. Cmdr. Keith Campbell, officer in charge of the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training, Tinker Air Force Base detachment. "That's the abstract of nuclear deterrence, but it's absolutely necessary to our nation and its allies that we stand this watch."

Based hundreds of miles from any major body of water at Tinker Air Force Base near Oklahoma City, Okla., the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training, Tinker detachment provides one-of-a-kind training to the Sailors who defend the nation from the devastation of nuclear war.

Integrated into the central hub for the E-6B mission; Strategic Communications Wing One is comprised of two operational squadrons, several supporting commands, and the CNATT detachment.

"We're here because it's a centralized location close to STRATCOMM at Offutt Air Force Base, and it's just strategically the best place for us to be for this mission, to make sure the president is always in contact with his nuclear triad." said Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Jones, instructor at CNATT Tinker.

The nuclear triad is a redundant nuclear strategy that ensures there is no single point of failure in the United States nuclear deterrence force.

The enlisted aircrew and maintainers that support such a high-priority mission require highly-specialized training.

More than a collection of classrooms, the school at CNATT Tinker is equipped with a massive hangar that houses a collection of E-6B planes, which are essentially Boeing 707s, cut apart and constructed into sophisticated aviation trainers.

"The technology here is impressive," said Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua McDonald, an instructor at CNATT Tinker. "When students first see the extent of training tools we have, they can feel overwhelmed, but we take the time to introduce them to the tools-of-the-trade in a low-stress environment to ensure they are getting the best possible training."

Another prominent feature of the CNATT Tinker detachment is the enthusiasm shared by its students.

"I knew exactly what I wanted to be - an AWV," said Airman Wayne Haik. (An AWV is a naval aircrewman avionics.) "I definitely look forward to getting out of bed and coming to school in the morning because it's hands-on training and it's exactly what I will need to know when I get to the fleet."

CNATT Tinker detachment provides the fleet "A" school instruction and career maintenance technical training for the E-6B Mercury aircraft. The command is comprised of approximately 40 Navy instructors and staff members and graduates about 200 students annually.