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'We are the 300 defending the 300 million': Base in Colorado key to stopping nuclear missile attack

Posted at 12:56 PM, Nov 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-02 16:41:32-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The back and forth between President Donald Trump and North Korea's president Kim Jung Un is constant. But what if North Korea acted on its threat of sending a nuclear missile to American shores? An Air Force base in Colorado Springs would play a critical role in the event of such an attack.

If the unthinkable happens, soldiers in a secure room on Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs will fight back. From a fortified facility, they have the power to launch what's known as a kill vehicle. Propelled into space by a rocket, the kill vehicle can destroy a warhead above the earth.

The mission would be administered by members of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade.

"The threat we're dealing with is very real," said Colonel Kevin Kick, who is the commander of the 300-person team. "We say we are the 300 defending the 300 million."

From their hub in Colorado, the interceptors can be launched from bases in Alaska and California, obliterating a nuclear warhead in a matter of minutes.

The U.S. military allowed Denver7 television station, owned by the E.W. Scripps Company, to capture an exercise of a simulated attack on Los Angeles. Security is so sensitive, we can't tell you the participant's names.

Soldiers say they train constantly so they are prepared in the event of an attack. “We train continuously — every shift, multiple times," said one unnamed solider.

During our visit, the computer monitors were blacked out and had post-it notes covering the information— part of the efforts to prevent a breach.

"It's a very humbling experience to know that we are responsible for the defense of the homeland for the entire United States," said Lt. Alberto Squatrito .

These soldiers are the best of the best— a blend of active military and National Guard, who work side-by-side after passing some of the toughest tests in the military.

"Unlike most school houses in our Army, you have to have an ‘A’ average just to pass the course," said Kick.

And that makes sense, considering they're at the controls that can determine life and death or prevent a nuclear annihilation.

"Do you ever get a lump in your throat, knowing the seriousness and importance of what you do here?" asked Denver7’s Marc Stewart.

"Yes, I do get a sense of pride. I do get a lump in my throat. We're here to keep America safe," said the soldier.

But not everyone is convinced this system will work. Some Pentagon testing has shown failures, with only about half of the tests being successful.

Yet the technology is constantly being upgraded and revised. The soldiers tell Denver7 they stand behind it, saying they sleep at night feeling safe.