On Nuclear Morale, the Proof Will be in the Modernization

After the cultural changes of the Force Improvement Program, “real improvements” in infrastructure will be needed to consolidate morale gains among the ICBM force, US Strategic Command boss Gen. John Hyten told Congress Wednesday. In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Hyten remembered a visit to a base in 2009 when “the morale was really bad.” Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson, who previously led Air Force Global Strike Command, said that was because “for a long time our nation didn’t value the nuclear force.” As a result of the FIP recommendations, Wilson said the Air Force is improving career development opportunities for missile officers by sending them to Weapons School, fellowship programs at Stanford and Harvard universities, and the new School for Advanced Nuclear Deterrence Studies at Kirtland AFB, N.M. Hyten said these changes show what can be done through “the power of leadership,” and he said “now when I talk to lieutenants … the morale is high.” But to keep it that way, the Air Force will also need to invest in “21st century equipment” to replace aging infrastructure at the nuclear bases.