Top AF nuke general: We must continue ‘cultural change’

Top AF nuke general: We must continue ‘cultural change’

All the cool kids in the Air Force today operate lightly armed robot airplanes from a trailer park in the desert. The squares? All they get are boring ‘ol nuclear weapons. But the airmen of Global Strike Command should buck up, their top general said this week, because darn it, nuclear weapons are special too! Lt. Gen. Jim Kowalski told airmen this week that Global Strike Command must continue to develop an esprit de corps about its mission that will keep strategic units from sliding back into their recent era of embarrassing goof-ups, like that time they accidentally flew live nuclear weapons over the United States, and wings kept failing their nuclear inspections.

Here’s how Kowalski made the case, per an official Air Force story:

“We have to complete the restoration of a culture that embraces our special trust and responsibility, not just for folks who have hands on our weapons, but all of our Airmen,” he said.

In the context of an uncertain, multi-polar world, knowing how the mission contributes to national defense is critical, Kowalski said. Nuclear deterrence maintains strategic stability, assures allies and provides regional deterrence against those wishing to do harm to the United States.

“Nuclear weapons are strategic weapons, they’re political weapons,” he said. “Majors and master sergeants talk about 2,000 pound bombs, senators and secretaries of defense talk about nuclear weapons.”

AFGSC, which stood up in August 2009, was established to provide a single command with a single focus on developing and providing combat-ready forces not only for nuclear deterrence, but for global strike operations as well.

“The command was established to get it right…to bring focus back — a single command focused at the high end of conflict,” Kowalski said. “Global Strike Command was organized to create certain behaviors in our Air Force and Airmen. Behavior over time equals culture. It is especially important we get a culture that embraces the special trust and responsibility of nuclear deterrence.”

The command’s top leader identified two behavioral traits, discipline and professionalism, as well as the need to adapt deterrence principles to 21st century security challenges, hallmarks for achieving desired results.

For outsiders, it’s baffling that the Air Force could have so marginalized its strategic units that it needed a big reorganization and these kinds of pep talks. But from the way it appears, Air Force missileeers and nuclear-capable squadrons felt left behind as the service scrambled to field UAVs, deal with “cyber,” and buy F-22s and F-35s. Unlike their strategic cousins in the Navy’s ballistic-missile submarine crews — who consider themselves to be among the elite of an already elite silent service — many airmen in strategic units were apparently miserable.

Air Force officials say Global Strike Command is the right answer, and it’s getting better. This year the unit held a big cohesion-building exercise in which it invited units to compete in readiness and other games, and its B-2 units just showed in a major drill that if the big balloon ever goes up, they’re ready to dance. But not everything is working perfectly: The Air Force also announced this week that it had to destroy an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM during a test flight, for reasons that aren’t yet clear. It may have nothing to do with Global Strike Command’s “culture,” but it’s definitely raising eyebrows about the Air Force’s strategic portfolio — again.


Join the Conversation

Why do we have to constantly tell the air force nuc guys that they are “special” when they screw up so much, is that because they really aren’t special?

The navy nuc folks (the submariners) are the cream of the crop in the Navy world, even higher on the food chain then the aviators (sorry guys but it’s true).

It seems to me that the air force should look to the navy to see have their nuc forces do business, perhaps they will learn something, if we stop calling them “special” that is.

They get to wear flight suits, so they must be special!

Well… At least they don’t have the prima donna attitude of the ‘special” folks at SOCOM HQ. “Oh boy, let’s but every new toy that we can, even if it doesn’t work. Let’s just make sure that someone else pays for it”.

Simple. Once SAC went away the discipline went with it. Now, they bring back this bastardized version of SAC Light and wonder why bad things happen? Back in my SAC days, there is no way in hell a bomber with a full whack of candles would fly across the country and sit unguarded on a mass parking section of flightline for 3 days. If it had, we’d be doing exercises and ORIs until we puked. Wait, that’s right; we did that ANYWAY!

Point being Global Strike ain’t SAC. You want to change the culture back to the Nuclear Surety days? You have to do it right. You screw up with a nuke you do not get discharged; you do not get counseled; nor do you get reassigned. You go to JAIL! Fear was a great motivator for keeping us on the path of righteousness back then.

Amen! The only adherents to that culture today are the ballistic missile submariners. If USAF were smart they would ask for a couple of warrant officers or chiefs from the boomer force to help them with their continual “attitude adjustment”. I have advocated in the past to bring back some of the retired SAC officers and senior NCOs, but the current crop is probably a little too arrogant to admit they need the help. Hmmmm…that means they probably won’t ask the Navy for a “gut check” either, right? Oh well, until the next high profile ____ up.

Keep in mind, the event you spoke of occurred *BEFORE* AFGSC was formed. Since AFGSC came into being, the command has been conducting NSEs/NSIs and OREs/ORIs on a continual basis. The crews are being rode hard to bring the standards back.

You’re right, it ain’t SAC, but it ain’t ACC or some stupid UAV/RPA/UAS/whatever it’s called this week command either.

It a cultural thing that really hasn’t changed. In SAC, people were SERIOUS about nukes. Now, we give it a LOT of talk but that’s about all it is.…talk. I mean let’s face it, if anyone has ever served in SAC, then you will remember the days of failing an NSI and seeing the moving truck at the Wing CC’s house VERY SOON afterward. People don’t get fired for making mistakes anymore. Where is the accountability?? Hmmm.…. the pilot of the BUFF who made that infamous flight down to Barksdale is now an IDE graduate and BTZ to Lt Col. Accountability?? Show me. For the flying folks out there, correct me if I am wrong but isn’t the pilot responsible for everything on the jet that they are in command of?? Sure, there were other mistakes made before it took off but how the heck does the AF send someone in-residence to school AND promote them below-the-zone?? The kinder, more gentle Air Force approach we endured under ACC and Space Command KILLED everything the SAC had instilled in us. Is it too late to reverse this course?? Sadly, it probably is given the views of our senior leaders and the current administration.

Sorry, but in today’s Air Force, that “disclipline” is just lacking. Our culture has changed, and with that change, it’s reflected in today’s Airmen. I’m NOT denigrating anyone, just making the observation that, as was alluded to, the SAC days are long gone, and will likely never return. In our culture, we seem afraid to “hurt someone’s feelings” with such things as adherence to standards and disclipline. That has to change.

You know, it’s the same issue with our kids today. They are constantly told while growing up that they are special and then when they hit the real world, they fail because they can’t deal with the fact that in reality, they are just like everyone else and that they were judged on their skill levels.

Now in this case — nothing changed — they were still being told how special they are.

Who came up with the bright idea for that anyway?

You’re right though. They need to go talk to the Navy and the Air Force needs to stop re-naming their commands.

I don’t know ‚but you tell the guys and gals on the ground in the Stan that just had an A-10 fly over and save their butts that the air force does not have it together , and they will tell you your full of SH*T !

James…You didn’t get the memo on tolerance of Cultural Diversity?

I applaud the A10’s and the work they do, but I think you would be smart in acknowledging that Apache, Cobra and other gunship type aircraft that carry a bit more of the mission than perhaps you know about or will to admit. When an Apache Unit flies a normal 20,000 hrs (yes 20,000 hours) in a year on 24 birds they “ain’t exactly sitting on their butts — and certainly don’t worry about 8 hr crew day. Frankly the A10’s should have been transferred to the Army back in the early nineties — and they would be a heck of a lot more effective ( and used) than they are now.

Joe — Flights suits are not to be worn unless your engaged in flight operations. USAF Regs — Period. But that rule can be over ruled by unit commanders to make everyone look like the “Lone Ranger”. Part of being professional is to look professional — flight suits don’t do it for me. Shows me your too lazy to look sharp. Gen S just told the USAF they have to wear their blue suits on Mondays to work so people would recognize USAF folks as part of a fighting force” About saz it all.

USAF asking the Navy for help — OMG — what planet do you live on :)

RE: Frankly the A10’s should have been transferred to the Army back in the early nineties.
Answer carefully (it’s a trap).

1. The Army wouldn’t have to put up with the USAF doctrine and all the c—-. The USAF fliers do a good job but get the tactical situation muddled when two services are trying to control the situation.

2. The USAF wants nothing to do with CAS and has stated that in public record. They ever have supported it. They have tried to do away with the A10 for that reason. Now when CAS is about all anyone has to fly anymore of course the USAF wants to run the show. The Apaches and A10’s work very well together. Frankly we need to either overhaul all the A10 at DM or build new ones cause the F16 cannot match it in a number of way. Ask the grunts.

3. The USAF proposed the transfer until they found out they couldn’t control it then it was a OMG NO.

NOTE: Comments are limited to 2500 characters and spaces.

By commenting on this topic you agree to the terms and conditions of our User Agreement

AdChoices | , and join us on Google+
© 2015 Military Advantage
A Monster Company.