Air Force Global Strike Command boss Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson has tasked an Air Force public affairs team to spend one month visiting six AFGSC bases to cover stories and document critical mission areas within the Air Force’s nuclear enterprise, according to a command release. Their mission is to “go where the Air Force’s ‘silent sentinels’ train, work, and live, and capture how they perform their jobs in environments unique to AFGSC, like missile alert facilities, launch control centers, and fight lines where airmen are trained to arm B-52 or B-2s with nuclear and conventional payloads . . . ,” states the release. The team will document “how these airmen stay focused and committed to the mission as they deploy regularly to [missile alert facilities],” states the release. The PA team will visit Vandenberg AFB, Calif.; Malmstrom AFB, Mont.; Minot AFB, N.D.; F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; Whiteman AFB, Mo.; and Barksdale AFB, La. The month-long series comes as the Air Force’s nuclear mission is being heavily scrutinized by senior Defense Department and congressional leaders after the Air Force unveiled that nearly half of Malmstrom’s missileers had been implicated in a cheating investigation. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has acknowledged there is a systemic problem in the nuclear enterprise, but maintains she remains confident in the mission itself.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.