BARKSDALE AFB, La. (AFNS) — The 8th Air Force has another aircraft in its inventory and it’s not a bomber.
The E-4B, which serves as the National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC) and is a key component of the National Military Command System for the president, the secretary of defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently transferred from Air Combat Command to Air Force Global Strike Command.
The Air Forces’ four E-4Bs, which are based out of Offutt AFB, Nebraska, were commemorated during a transfer ceremony on October 7.
“The Air Force is continuing on a path to improve how its nuclear forces are organized, trained, and equipped,” said Maj Gen Thomas Bussiere, the 8th AF commander and officiator of the ceremony. “The E-4B may not function in the same capacity as our bomber force, but it certainly has a role to play within the nuclear enterprise and seems only fitting that it resides within the command responsible for nuclear operations.”
The aircraft realignment is a part of a larger effort to centrally manage the Air Force’s nuclear enterprise and supporting systems.
To improve central management of the nuclear enterprise, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen Mark A. Welsh directed that the Air Force create an organization with a clear line of communication between the president and members of the nuclear task forces. Air Force Global Strike Command was designated as the Air Force lead for nuclear command, control, and communications (C3).
As a key component of the National Military Command System, which keeps the president connected to nuclear and conventional forces around the world, the E-4B fell within the restructuring initiative.
Also acknowledged during the transfer ceremony was the activation of the 595th Command and Control Group, the 8th AF unit responsible for the E-4B.
“The realignment helps us better advocate for nuclear [command and control] and simplifies the chain of command,” said Col Robert Billings, the 595CACG commander. "One of my first steps as commander will be to address manpower needs and develop the group.”
The 595CACG is comprised of four squadrons: the 1st Airborne Command Control Squadron, which operates the aircraft; the 595th Strategic Communication Squadron, which provides real-time, secure, nuclear survivable missile warning and C3 capabilities; the 595th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, responsible for sustainment and upkeep of the E-4B; and the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron.
“Ultimately, the realignment of the E-4B and activation of the 595CACG marks another step in our journey to strengthen the enterprise as our nuclear deterrent forces remain at the forefront of our nation’s security,” Bussiere said.