…Ummmm, no. Let me explain.
Once upon a time, there was an organization known as the Strategic Air Command. It was responsible for the ICBM and bomber forces of the US Air Force. For roughly forty-five years, it’s insignia – a mailed fist clutching olive branches and lightning bolts – let our enemies know what they had to choose from. And aside from a very bad stretch at its inception, SAC did its job magnificently. And it was led by a four-star general for most of its history.
Mike’s new to blogging, but an old hand at the Air Force.
And he’s got quite a bit to say about the Air Force’s Global Strike Command, and the issues it has had, almost from its inception.
The great post-Cold War restructuring that led to the disestablishment of Strategic Air Command had one effect that quite a few people anticipated- that is, the use of dedicated nuclear assets to non-nuclear missions to the detriment of their ability to perform their prime mission.
You may not know this, but the B-1 bomber fleet does NOT have a nuclear mission. But the B-52 and the B-2 fleets do. But given that both have been used quite a bit in the conventional role (particularly the B-52s), it’s not unreasonable to see that they lack the focus needed under the old school nuclear surety rules.
And of course, the Minuteman III missile community has fared even worse, if for different reasons. Sitting in a nuclear launch complex has never been seen as particularly desirable duty, especially not in the Air Force, where if you weren’t a pilot, you were by definition a second class citizen. At least under SAC, the four star generals who ran the command always knew that the missile community was, really, the heart of the command, and went to considerable effort to make it a rewarding career path. Now, missile duty is seen almost as punishment.
Can the Air Force address these issues? They’ve been trying to for six years. That was the whole point of Global Strike Command.
But simply bumping the boss up a pay grade isn’t enough.
Lots of readers and commentors here make mention about the Air Force not wanting to do Close Air Support. But in fact, that’s virtually all they’ve done for almost a generation. What they really seem to lack interest in is Mission Number One, nuclear deterrence.
Click on through, and help Mike get used to being a blogger.
And a minor nit to pick, Mike- they aren’t CINCs anymore. Rumsfeld took away that title.