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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Air Force Global Strike Command activated

by Tech. Sgt. Amaani Lyle
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

8/7/2009 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force officials stood up a new major command to oversee all of its nuclear forces in an activation ceremony Aug. 7 at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.

Air Force Global Strike Command will provide combat ready forces to conduct strategic nuclear deterrence and global strike operations in support of combatant commanders.

"This week we achieved a major milestone in the activation of Air Force Global Strike Command," said Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley. "The command will bring together our strategic nuclear forces under a single commander, and will provide combatant commanders with the forces to conduct strategic nuclear deterrence and global strike operations through intercontinental ballistic missiles, B-2 (Spirit) and B-52 (Stratofortress) operations."

The creation of Air Force Global Strike Command began last fall with the approval of a nuclear roadmap developed by Secretary Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. Air Force officials took a critical look at its nuclear mission after discovering shortcomings in its procedures.

"Our expectation for the command is high, as it focuses on precision, reliability, and compliance on all nuclear matters," General Schwartz said. "Lieutenant General Frank (G.) Klotz will lead the new command fulfilling his role as the steward of the Air Force's contribution to America's deterrent posture and, more importantly, lead the Airmen who are the core of the Air Force's nuclear enterprise."

Nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate as the AFGSC commander, General Klotz previously served as assistant vice chief of staff and director of Air Force staff. In those positions he's had a close view of the Air Force efforts to reinvigorate the Air Force's nuclear enterprise.

"The activation of Global Strike Command is part of a broader, comprehensive strategy the Air Force is undertaking to ensure we have the proper focus on our critical missions that provide nuclear deterrence and global strike forces for the combatant commander, the joint team and our allies," General Klotz said.

The new major command is the latest -- and largest -- reorganization in the Air Force's ongoing effort to reinvigorate the Air Force nuclear enterprise. Late last year the Air Force established a directorate at Headquarters Air Staff (A10) focused solely on the nuclear mission. The service also increased the size and scope of operations at the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center to consolidate all nuclear sustainment efforts.

The activation of Air Force Global Strike Command is the "next and very important step," said General Klotz, noting that there are still more milestones ahead.

In December, command officials assume responsibility of 20th Air Force at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., and the ICBM force. In February 2010, the command staff gains 8th Air Force at Barksdale AFB and the nuclear-capable bomber force. The 576th Flight Test Squadron at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., as well as the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron at Offutt AFB, Neb., will also fall under the new command. Like other Air Force major commands, Air Force Global Strike Command will be a total force team with the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units performing critical roles and responsibilities. Ultimately, the command will consist of 23,000 people.

The stand-up of a single command focused on nuclear operations has led many to draw parallels to Strategic Air Command, which led the Air Force's nuclear operations until 1992. When asked about the comparison to SAC, General Klotz said AFGSC represents an important part of the service's evolution from its original nuclear deterrent force.

"Strategic Air Command was a magnificent organization with a legacy of pride, discipline, of attention to detail. It kept the peace. It helped win the Cold War," he said. "But times have changed."

The general asserted that although the Cold War is over, "we continue to need nuclear forces to provide a deterrent to attack against the U.S. as well as to assure our allies of our commitment to their security."

He stressed it will be the people of Air Force Global Strike Command who ultimately maintain the credibility and viability of this important mission.

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