ICBMs and Nuclear Mission Perception

In the background of the Air Force’s ICBM cheating scandal, Air Force Global Strike Command leadership at Barksdale AFB, La., is working to counter misconceptions about the ICBM mission. Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, AFGSC boss, said the idea that ICBMs are a “dead-end career” doesn’t reflect reality. There are 12 general officers in the Air Force today from the ICBM community, he told Air Force Magazine in an interview at Barksdale in late May. “There are 1,000 airmen who are missileers today,” he said. The service has three ICBM wings, each with an operations group. Between the three wings, there are 14 squadrons, including operations and operational support units. This all adds up to a “lot of leadership opportunity,” said Wilson. At the same time, he noted, “we have not done a very good job, institutionally, as an Air Force to make sure all members of our Air Force understand the nuclear piece, and what [nuclear airmen] bring to it.” Therefore, the Air Force is making changes to professional military education, to Air Command and Staff College curriculum, to its senior leader operations course, and to other areas, he said. “We have work to do in that arena,” he said.