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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