Friday, October 24, 2008

US Air Force Nuclear Enterprise Roadmap Urges New Command, Headquarters Agency

Air Force leaders released their Nuclear Enterprise Roadmap Oct. 24, a document directed by the secretary of the Air Force to address cultural and systemic challenges across the service's nuclear forces. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Mike Carabajal.)

Focus on Defense:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2008 -- Establishment of a Global Strike Command and a Headquarters Air Force staff agency to handle Air Force nuclear assets are some of the recommendations found in the Nuclear Enterprise Roadmap released Oct. 24 by senior leaders.

The roadmap, titled Reinvigorating the Air Force Nuclear Enterprise, also recommends a nuclear weapons center and a single process for inspections.

The roadmap follows an unauthorized transfer of munitions from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale AFB, La., in August 2007 and an inadvertent shipment of sensitive missile components to Taiwan in 2006. The secretary of the Air Force created the Air Force Nuclear Task Force to develop a strategic roadmap to rebuild the service's nuclear enterprise.

"This roadmap will enable the Air Force to effectively secure, maintain, operate and sustain our nation's nuclear capabilities and expertise," said Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley. "It will also correct long-standing systemic and institutional weaknesses in our stewardship of nuclear matters.

"This roadmap is our commitment to the nuclear enterprise," Secretary Donley said. "It's the foundation for reinvigorating the Air Force nuclear enterprise to reestablish the confidence in our ability to provide nuclear deterrence to our nation and our allies."

The chief of staff of the Air Force said the roadmap is going back to fundamentals.

"This roadmap reflects a back-to-basics approach in accountability, compliance, precision and reliability," said Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, chief of staff.

According to Air Force officials, the roadmap is vital to improving Air Force stewardship of the bomber, missile and associated logistics capabilities that form the foundation of America's strategic nuclear deterrent.

"These changes will be institutionalized across our nuclear enterprise, ensuring our commitment to excellence regardless of changes to our force structure, competing mission requirements or the size of our nuclear arsenal," Secretary Donley said.

To fortify current operations, develop personnel and sustain and modernize current capabilities within the nuclear forces, Air Force officials will undertake a series of action plans to address the root causes of the recent problems. The action plans implement approximately 100 recommendations grouped into a composite set of major actions that serve as the foundation of the roadmap.

These major actions include:
  • Increase institutional focus and oversight by establishing an Air Force Global Strike Command, led by a lieutenant general, and a HAF strategic deterrence and nuclear integration staff office, to be known as A10. Both will focus on nuclear enterprise matters.

  • Consolidate sustainment functions under Air Force Materiel Command's Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.

  • Implement a centralized Nuclear Surety Inspection process and increase NSI oversight.

  • Align strategic deterrent and nuclear operations-based education, training, career development and force development actions.

  • Implement a Global Deterrent Force approach for bomber operations that balances current global commitments with dedicated periods for personnel to focus on nuclear operations training and proficiency.

  • Consolidate planning, programming, budgeting and execution of nuclear enterprise elements.

  • Create Strategic Investment Plans that address long-term nuclear requirements, including those for cruise missiles, bombers, dual-capable aircraft and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

  • Establish positive inventory control measures for nuclear weapons-related material.

  • Create a coordinated, advocacy-based engagement strategy that enables thoughtful Air Force input to national and joint policy, strategy and planning processes.

  • Present roadmap implementation results to oversight committees established by the secretary of defense.

The roadmap incorporates ongoing corrective actions, as well as new initiatives suggested by experts from inside and outside the Air Force. It provides the fundamental guidance to organize, train and equip the Air Force's nuclear forces to ensure effective nuclear deterrence and nuclear surety in an integrated and synchronized manner, Air Force officials said.

As a follow-on to the roadmap, an implementation plan is being developed to identify the appropriate steps and timeline required to stand up the new Global Strike Command. Included in the implementation plan will be details on the criteria to be used for identifying a location for the command headquarters and the realignment of personnel and resources from under their current major command to the newly established AFGSC.

In the past year, Air Force officials identified and funded initiatives that were immediately executable. A total of $84.7 million was funded in the areas of nuclear sustainment, security, training and facility projects. For fiscal year 2009, officials are identifying funds from within the current budget to continue implementation of nuclear enterprise initiatives and addressing emerging requirements with Congress.

Click here to view the entire roadmap, Reinvigorating the Air Force Nuclear Enterprise.

(Report from a U.S. Air Force news release.)

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