Inspections and the Nuclear Enterprise

The Air Force is trying to bring an “enterprise character” back into nuclear deterrence operations, said Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak, assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration on the Air Staff. Speaking during an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast in Arlington, Va., Tuesday, Harencak said, “We did a lot of things right, but we did a lot of things wrong as an Air Force and a (Defense Department).” The focus on inspections is one area where both DOD and USAF “got carried away,” he added. Harencak said that in 2008, when he commanded the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB, Mo., there were inspectors on base 161 days that year. We got “crazy” about the importance of inspections, he said, and that helped develop a culture that said the only thing that mattered was getting by the next inspection—a culture that led to some of the problems military leaders are trying to address. Now, thanks to the recommendations of a DOD review, released in November, the process is becoming more “logical and common sense,” while still preserving the standards and focus on mission accomplishment that inspections seek to build. Although Harencak acknowledged that some criticisms have “stung a bit,” the reviews have helped USAF accomplish changes that not long ago seemed very difficult to make headway on.