The Origins of the FIP

When news first broke of the cheating at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., earlier this year, Air Force Global Strike Command boss Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson reached out to a colleague from the US military’s nuclear community, Navy Vice Adm. Michael Conner, commander of the Navy’s nuclear submarine command (US Submarine Forces). “He has the Navy’s leg of the nuclear triad now, and we went to a few schools together,” Wilson told Air Force Magazine during an interview at his Barksdale AFB, La., headquarters. Wilson asked Conner if he had any advice or experience in addressing similar lapses. In an effort to work on safety culture issues in the sub community, Conner told Wilson, the Navy brought together a team of younger sailors to go out and diagnose problems. Conner said the younger sailors were helpful because they were “closer to the problem,” Wilson recalled. This conversation led to the creation of USAF’s Force Improvement Program, which brought young officers and “informal leaders” from across the USAF and the Navy’s nuclear communities to all Air Force missile wings this past February. After some 840 interviews and 1,800 surveys, nearly 98 percent of the ideas generated were adopted by AFGSC, Wilson said. The FIP team is going back into the field in June to take input on the initiative’s progress.