Backcountry resisters infiltrate Vandenberg Air Force Base

David Omondi, Theo Kayser, Fr. Louis Vitale



For the first time in nearly a decade, nonviolent civil resisters caused a disruptive breach of the backcountry security zones at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) on October 20 and 21, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. VAFB enforces a sweeping global pattern of violent high-tech military abuse.

Three participants were arrested for federal trespass and others eluded base security patrols. One participant, Theo Kayser, was hand-cuffed face down on the ground with an M-16 automatic rifle trained on his back during his 2 a.m. arrest, while search lights swept the surrounding hills. He was then held under armed guard for nine hours at a special security command post which VAFB had set up to deal with the backcountry occupation. Vandenberg security stated that they believed at least 15 individuals were spotted in base security zones between 0ctober 20th and 21st.

Action participants hope that others will follow their example in the months ahead. They entered the huge US Strategic Command facility at widely dispersed points and hiked miles into the base, crossing fences and rough terrain under cover of night, hanging banners on nuclear first-strike missile silos deep inside Vandenberg. They also conducted an unauthorized Christian prayer liturgy and exorcism of evil inside VAFB boundaries. Multiple sources, including contacts within VAFB, confirmed that the announced plans and the backcountry security zone occupation caused days of disruptive base alerts, interrupting Vandenberg’s business as usual to prepare for and deal with the security zone breaches.

David Omondi and Rebecca Casas

Backcountry action participants and their supporters say that “Vandenberg, built on land stolen from the Chumash nation, launches and controls key satellites which run worldwide drone strikes that kill civilians, and are positioning US forces for a catastrophic peak-oil war with Iran. VAFB is making nuclear world war more likely by its first-strike Minuteman III flight tests, which seriously contaminate stolen indigenous territory at the Earth’s largest coral atoll, Kwajalein.”

Arrested action participants include Franciscan Priest Louie Vitale and Los Angeles Catholic Worker community members Theo Kayser and Rebecca Casas.


Exactly 50 years ago, this planet was brought to the brink of complete destruction during what is referred to as the Cuban Missile Crisis. We believe that all missiles are a crisis (whether located in Cuba or elsewhere) as they are contrary to the laws of the Creator whose names are many, but whom we call (as did the evangelist John) LOVE.

Vandenberg AFB has continued since the near catastrophe of October 1962 with its preparations for both nuclear and “conventional” war through continued missile tests, launches of military satellites and other preparations for killing in violation of the commandment, “love one another.” Acknowledging that love is an active rather than passive state of being, we cannot sit by while the evils of Vandenberg AFB are allowed to continue unchecked.

We acknowledge that the land on which Vandenberg AFB is located was stolen from its true owners, the Chumash people. We understand that the missile tests conducted here pollute both the coast of California, with exhaust from rocket fuels, and Kwajalein Atoll of the Marshall Islands, with depleted uranium. It is our belief that the millions of dollars spent on war-making and preparations for war could be used to feed those who are hungry, house those who are homeless, and provide health care to those who are sick and we consider it a sin that schools are closed and homes foreclosed upon while military spending goes unchecked.
Because of these sins and innumerable others, we have come to this place to pray for peace, in the form of nonviolent direct action, with the belief that “wherever two are more are gathered” there is God. Without question, Vandenberg AFB is a place in need of God, whose gospel is peace and whose message is reconciliation between all peoples. Our hope is both that our action will somehow hasten the kingdom of brother and sisterhood and that others will heed our example and nonviolently “occupy” this base in the weeks and months ahead for the purpose of transforming this land from a place dedicated to death into one of hope and love.
Fr. Louie Vitale, OFM
David Omondi, Los Angeles Catholic Worker
Theo Kayser, Los Angeles Catholic Worker