SecAF visits missile wings, highlights progress

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BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. — Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James visited Air Force Global Strike Command’s three missile wings June 30 – July 1 to meet with Airmen and discuss changes made in the force over the past six months.

James’ first stop was F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, where she met with leadership and held Airmen focus groups to get feedback and emphasize the importance of the ICBM force. She told the group that commanders at all levels need to look for opportunities to mentor, motivate and inspire.

“It’s up to you now to take ownership and actually lead the way forward,” she said. “As leaders, recognize that things take time and we need to have a little bit of patience and a little bit of trust that we are working these issues through the process as quickly as we possibly can.”

Accompanying James on her tour of the bases was Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, Global Strike commander, who told Warren Airmen that sometimes their job is thankless, but their work is critical.

“Often, the United States doesn’t notice what is going on because we do our job so well,” he said. “We are going to ensure that the safe, secure and effective nuclear force is there all the time. That it’s ready all the time, and that it is the backstop for our DOD and our nation.”

The importance of the nuclear mission was reiterated to Airmen at Malmstrom Air Force Base, where the leaders stopped next.

“The nuclear mission is the most important mission in the Air Force,” James said during an all call. “Were we backing that up with appropriate resources for people in maintenance with spare parts and modernization and all of the rest of it? Were we talking the walk or walking the talk? It struck me maybe we weren’t doing a good enough job there, so I thought to myself ‘we need some additional investments in people, facilities, maintenance, spare parts and so forth.’”

In addition to discussing the increased funding and manning the command will gain, James highlighted several changes that have come about as a result of the Force Improvement Program.

“We are making improvements to launch control centers with refurbishments such as new sofas, new furniture and some new supplies that have been delivered so it’s good that things are starting to happen,” she said. “For maintenance, we are improving launch facilities, shock isolators and other field improvements.

“For our defenders, there has been money set aside for tactical gear and vehicle heating systems. For mission support, there is money set aside for manpower billets to develop two new nuclear surety courses, as well as to repair some of the roads which could be pretty hazardous that you all travel on,” James added. “[FIP] all started out of a bad situation … but out of a bad situation you can make something good. That is what we were determined to do.”

Capt. Jessica Tiffany, a missileer and executive officer with the 341st Missile Wing, attended the all call.

“Secretary James took time out of her busy schedule to put eyes on the ICBM community not once, but twice this year. Each time, she made it crystal clear that she wants our unfiltered input,” she said. “Today, she and Lt. Gen. Wilson briefed us on some of the changes we can expect to see in the near future. I hope that these changes will have a positive impact to the lives of the men and women who operate, maintain, support and defend this mission.”

James’ final stop was Minot Air Force Base, where she also met with leadership and had focus groups with Airmen