Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Air Force Global Strike Command officials assume ICBM mission

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFNS) -- Air Force Global Strike Command officials here assume the Air Force's intercontinental ballistic missile mission Dec. 1.

The ICBM transfer is part of a phased approach to unify all Air Force nuclear-capable assets under one command, officials said.

The new command gains three missile wings with the assumption of the 20th Air Force mission: one each from F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.; Malmstrom AFB, Mont.; and Minot AFB, N.D. Command officials also assume responsibility for all of the United States' 450 ICBMs.

The 576th Flight Test Squadron at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., as well as the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron at Offutt AFB, Neb., also now fall under AFGSC. Previously all of those units were part of Air Force Space Command.

"We are well on our way to consolidating all of our Air Force assets in this critical mission area under a single command, one that will serve as a single major command voice to maintain the high standards necessary for stewardship of our nation's most powerful weapons," said Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, AFGSC commander.

"The creation of this new command reflects the Air Force's firm and unshakable conviction that nuclear deterrence and global strike operations are a special trust and responsibility, one that we take very seriously," the general said.

On Feb. 1, AFGSC officials also will gain 8th Air Force, based at Barksdale AFB, and along with it, 8th Air Force's nuclear-capable bombers. At that time, the command will gain the B-52 Stratofortress wings at Barksdale AFB and Minot AFB, and the B-2 Spirit wing at Whiteman AFB, Mo.

AFGSC stood up in August to provide combat-ready forces to conduct strategic nuclear deterrence and global strike operations in support of the president and combatant commanders.

The Air Force Global Strike Command was established in an effort to boost security and reduce errors.

In a 2007 incident, nuclear weapons were loaded aboard a B-52 bomber at Minot Air Force Base and flown to Barksdale before the mistake was discovered. In another incident, nuclear nose cones mistakenly were shipped to Taiwan. As a result, then-Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and then-Air force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley resigned. Another 15 officers, including six generals, were disciplined.

The new command is part of a roadmap to improving the Air Force's Stewardship of its nuclear program, Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley said during an October 2008 Pentagon media roundtable to introduce the plan.

"This is a critical milestone for us. It's a new starting point for reinvigoration of this enterprise," he said then. "The changes we make today will help us focus on this enterprise regardless of other changes in Air Force missions along the way, and regardless of how big or small the nuclear enterprise is."