WASHINGTON — The Air Force is making major improvements to how it supports and empowers the Airmen who perform the nuclear mission.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, the commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, addressed members of the Air Force Association on how the Force Improvement Program, or FIP, is fostering a culture of empowerment among nuclear enterprise Airmen and helping restore nation’s trust in the Air Force’s management of the nuclear enterprise.
“As we embarked on changes in the ICBM community — we’ve had lots of really high level reviews that have done a tremendous job of helping shape where we are,” Wilson said. “What’s different about the Force Improvement Program that we’ve got in place is that this is done by the people who are doing the mission today.”
The FIP is being driven by the officers and NCOs working in the field; giving them a voice in how Global Strike completes the nuclear deterrence mission. In just the intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBM, portion of the FIP alone, more than 350 recommendations came to his office unfiltered, and the majority of them were approved, the general said.
“The power of it is the people who proposed the changes are the ones who have to implement them,” he said. “This was their idea, so they have ownership of it.”
But along with giving Airmen a voice in how the career field progresses, another major area of concern is improving the manning. Recently, the secretary of the Air Force approved adding approximately 1,100 positions across the nuclear enterprise to ensure it is properly manned, Wilson said.
“We want to be 100 percent effectively manned by skill and location across our eight critical nuclear (Air Force Specialty Codes) to make sure we have the right skill level at the right bases,” Wilson said. “We don’t have a margin for error. We can’t ever afford to have our nuclear forces go ‘yellow’ for manning.”
In addition to ensuring the right skill level at the right bases, AFGSC has revamped its educational and training to promote growth and reliability.
“We’re also spending a lot of time on training,” he said. “We’re focused on providing all the right education, training and experience, to make sure (Airmen) are confident and proud … and professionally fulfilled. If I can do that, then we have mission success on this end.”