USA — Generals discuss nuclear enterprise at annual conference

OXON HILL, Md. (AFNS) — Four gen­er­als com­prised the nuclear enter­prise pan­el at the 2010 Air Force Asso­ci­a­tion Con­fer­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Expo to answer ques­tions from Air­men and civil­ians Sept. 13 here.

Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration
Maj. Gen. William Cham­bers answers ques­tions dur­ing the Nuclear Enter­prise pan­el dis­cus­sion Sept. 13, 2010, dur­ing the Air Force Association’s Air and Space Con­fer­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Expo­si­tion in Oxon Hill, Md. Oth­er pan­elists were Gen. Roger Brady, Unit­ed States Air Forces in Europe com­man­der, Maj. Gen. C. Don­ald Alston, 20th Air Force com­man­der, Maj. Gen. Floyd Car­pen­ter, 8th Air Force com­man­der, and Brig. Gen. Everett Thomas, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Cen­ter. Gen­er­al Cham­bers is assis­tant chief of staff for Strate­gic Deter­rence and Nuclear Inte­gra­tion.
U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash

Gen. Roger A. Brady, the U.S Air Forces in Europe com­man­der, Maj. Gen. Don­ald Alston, the 20th Air Force com­man­der, Maj. Gen. Floyd L. Car­pen­ter, the 8th Air Force com­man­der, Maj. Gen. William A. Cham­bers, the assis­tant chief of staff for Strate­gic Deter­rence and Nuclear Inte­gra­tion and Brig. Gen. Everett H. Thomas, the AFNWC com­man­der, answered ques­tions rang­ing from mis­sile main­te­nance issues to edu­cat­ing and train­ing the force. 

The pan­el opened with each gen­er­al explain­ing what his unit’s mis­sion is and how they inter­act to make up the Air Force nuclear enterprise. 

“It was two years ago, the chief (of staff of the Air Force) and the sec­re­tary (of the Air Force) made re-invig­o­rat­ing the enter­prise the Air Force’s No.1 pri­or­i­ty,” Gen­er­al Cham­bers said. “Though it is still the No.1 pri­or­i­ty, the chief and the sec­re­tary made a delib­er­ate deci­sion to change the word­ing to ‘con­tin­ue to strength­en’, and that’s the mode we’re in.” 

Senior Air Force lead­ers released the Nuclear Enter­prise Roadmap in Octo­ber 2008, which guides the Air Force to effec­tive­ly secure, main­tain, oper­ate and sus­tain our nation’s nuclear capa­bil­i­ties and exper­tise. It is also designed to help cor­rect sys­temic and insti­tu­tion­al weak­ness­es regard­ing nuclear matters. 

“For those of you (who) are not close to the enter­prise, I can tell you that there is a sub­stan­tial amount of sweat equi­ty every day that needs to go into deliv­er­ing that amount of deter­rence,” Gen­er­al Alston said. “Today there are 413 (inter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles) on alert. We have a remain­der that are in some form of mod­i­fi­ca­tion. Those sys­tems require care and ‘feed­ing’, and we’ve been blessed that over the last 10 years or so we have mod­ern­ized, or at least improved, the sus­tain­ment of the Min­ute­man III (ICBM) with prob­a­bly more than $8 mil­lion worth of investment.” 

Gen­er­al Alston cred­it­ed Air Force offi­cials and the Air­men who main­tain the mis­siles with what he called the “great shape” they’re in now. 

Although Air Force offi­cials have made many improve­ments toward mod­ern­iz­ing and main­tain­ing the nuclear enter­prise, there is still work to be done. 

“We now have to fix things like human cap­i­tal, like cul­tur­al issues, like insti­tu­tion­al­iz­ing things we’ve learned dur­ing rig­or­ous inspec­tions, like mod­ern­iz­ing our weapons sys­tems and their sub­sys­tems,” Gen­er­al Cham­bers said. “The two things I’m most focused on are the human cap­i­tal issues and the mod­ern­iza­tion issues. Get­ting the right peo­ple … in the right super­vi­sor roles, in the units Gen­er­al Alston and Gen­er­al Car­pen­ter com­mand, is extreme­ly important.” 

US Air Force 

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