If you want to watch a little bit of USAF history in the making, tune in Friday on the Pentagon Channel online to watch the air service stand up its new Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. The AFGSC, one of 10 USAF commands, will provide combat forces to conduct strategic nuclear deterrence and global strike operations. Here are a few more notes of interest from USAF HQ:
-- When fully operational, the AFGSC will encompass 23,000 Airmen from 8th Air Force at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. and 20th Air Force at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., consisting of six operational wings and two squadrons, the 576th at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The AFGSC will emphasize the development and sustainment of strategic, operational, and technical nuclear expertise as well as increasing the number of experienced nuclear personnel to fill key leadership positions.
-- The AFGSC organizational construct will clearly align nuclear missile and nuclear capable bomber units and other deterrence capabilities under a single command and demonstrate a visible commitment to the nuclear deterrence mission while taking full advantage of the existing Air Force field organizational structure.
-- Over the next few months, the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile forces, B-2 and B-52 bombers operational responsibility will transfer from Air Force Space Command and Air Combat Command, respectively, to AFGSC. AFGSC will bring together different missions of six wings under the 8th and 20th Numbered Air Forces, and Air Force Space Command and Air Combat Command. Together, these units comprise two-thirds of the nation’s nuclear deterrence forces and global strike mission as a component MAJCOM of U.S. Strategic Command.
Of course, what USAF HQ wont tell you so readily is how all of this began: a series of mishaps in the service’s handling of nuclear responsibilities in recent years. Thats what led Defense Secretary Robert Gates to fire the last Air Force secretary and chief of staff. Before F-22s and UAVs came to rule the headlines of late, the USAF was under tremendous criticism for taking its eye off the nuclear realm. AFGSC is supposed to rekindle that fire.