Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III continue to implement improvements to the Air Force’s nuclear mission and increase support to the men and women who operate, maintain and support the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile force.
Following visits to the missile bases and visits with the Airmen who perform the mission, James and Air Force Global Strike Command Commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson announced some sweeping initiatives.
Recently, James recommended to the secretary of defense elevating the Global Strike Command leadership to a four-star general, from the current three-star rank. This proposal will be worked over the next several months and will require congressional approval, officials said.
“This important mission in the Air Force deserves the highest level of leadership oversight similar to our other operational core mission areas,” James said.
The Air Force also will increase the Air Force assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration from a two-star to a three-star billet. Additionally, the service will increase nuclear manning levels and strengthen professional development.
Part of that manpower goes to putting more mid-level officers into the missile squadrons. For example, two majors are being added to each missile squadron to serve as assistant operations officers and help fill the gap between the lieutenant colonel squadron commander and lieutenants and captains who perform the alert mission.
“This is our most critically important mission and these personnel actions show that,” Welsh said. “And we are not just increasing the rank within the organization, we are also increasing the overall manpower by more than 1,100 personnel to address shortfalls and offer our Airmen a more stable work schedule and better quality of life.”
James also highlighted the importance of continued accountability for those who do not meet standards. Airmen at all levels of Global Strike Command have been held accountable for recent test compromises, which brought to light many of the morale issues James and Wilson are addressing.
“These initiatives will take time,” Wilson said. “But we’re putting our money where our mouth is and aligning resources to go after those initiatives.”
“We have redirected $50 million in (fiscal year 2014) funding to address urgent, near-term nuclear sustainment shortfalls by internally reallocating all of the sustainment funds that Global Strike Command can execute (fiscal 2014), as well as $350 million over the future years defense program,” James said. “Through the tireless efforts of General Wilson and his team at Global Strike Command we are on our way to correcting some of the systemic issues I observed.”
Lastly, to return the focus to performing operations in the field and attract and retain high-caliber Airmen in the nuclear mission, the Air Force is also introducing several