Fixing the Nuclear Enterprise

The Air Force is putting more resources into the nuclear mission to raise morale and repair organizational and cultural problems, said service Secretary Deborah Lee James. Speaking to defense reporters in Washington, D.C., on June 18, James said the Air Force has “redirected” $50 million from other accounts into Air Force Global Strike Command over the last few months—as much as command leadership says it can wisely spend—and plans to invest an additional $350 million over the next five years. “I am certain that additional resources are probably still in order” beyond that, but that will be a discussion for the next budget cycle, she said. Starting in the fall, the Air Force will offer ROTC scholarships and accession bonuses for those volunteering for missile crew duty, she said. There may also possibly be “field incentive pay for people who deploy out to the missile fields for ‘x’ number of days,” she said, noting that new recruits rarely choose the missile specialty. James said a four-star general should lead AFGSC, and the chief of nuclear matters on the Air Staff should be “upped” from a two-star to a three-star billet. “In the Air Force, rank matters,” she said. Some 1,100 more personnel will go into AFGSC and eight “critical nuclear specialties” now shorthanded will be manned at 100 percent, she said. The Air Force will reinvigorate “sustainment, infrastructure, … people” and cultural issues alike, said James. It wants to “stop the micromanaging,” push decision-making to lower levels and end the “zero-defect” mentality that has led to recent lapses in discipline, she said. “Hold on, there could well be more to come. … We’re not done, yet,” she said.