Air Force Nuclear Command Achieves Full Capability

The U.S. Air Force announced Friday that its new command for managing the service's nuclear force had achieved "full operational capability," marking the final milestone in the branch's organization (see GSN, March 2).

Full establishment of the Air Force Global Strike Command involved completion of more than 700 tasks laid out last year by the service's uniformed and civilian leaders. The command's initial activation at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana on Aug. 7, 2009, followed security lapses including the accidental 2007 transfer of nuclear-armed cruise missiles between two U.S. bases and the mistaken shipping of nuclear missile parts to Taiwan in 2008.

"Our successful stand up was possible because of the commitment, innovative spirit and sheer hard work of Global Strike Command airmen," Global Strike Command head Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz said in a press release.

"This talented team of professionals put in place all the functions of a major command while simultaneously executing those functions," Klotz said. "This unique challenge was a lot like building an aircraft while actually flying it."

The command is responsible for long-range nuclear deterrence and global strike planning, and its strategic master plan fits into the Air Force's broader strategy, according to a press release. The branch has created and staffed a center of operations, and it has assumed oversight of the 20th Air Force at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming and the 8th Air Force at Barksdale.

The command took control Friday of organizational and financial operations, and it is now set to preside over maintenance and refurbishment of the nation's Minuteman 3 ICBMs at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. Further, the branch would care for and update nuclear-capable B-52 bombers at the Barksdale and Minot bases, nuclear-capable B-2 bombers at Whiteman Air Force in Missouri and UH-1N Huey helicopters.

In addition, the command would handle targeting assessment at the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska as well as ICBM test launches at the 576th Flight Test Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The Global Strike Command was the first fully new Air Force command established in more than 27 years, the service said (U.S. Air Force release, Oct. 1).

October 4, 2010
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The U.S. Air Force announced Friday that its new command for managing the service's nuclear force had achieved "full operational capability," marking the final milestone in the branch's organization (see GSN, March 2).