Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Air Force Global Strike Command boss Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson said Wednesday they are confident the Air Force will fix the systemic problems within its nuclear force, while emphasizing the mission itself has not been compromised. Speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event in Washington, D.C., the leaders promised to remain transparent as the Air Force works to get a grasp on the allegations of widespread cheating at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., saying the investigation is still ongoing. “I want to reinforce that the vast majority of our airmen,” particularly those involved in the ICBM mission, “are working hard and with great pride every day,” said James. “As for the challenges, we will address them. People will be held accountable. We didn’t get here overnight. I’m sure we won’t fix it overnight. But, we will get there.” The bottom-up grass roots effort to identify and fix such problems, known as the force improvement program, began on Wednesday. Wilson said the FIP is an opportunity to shape the next generation of airmen. The entire team of about 65 people gathered at AFGSC headquarters at Barksdale AFB, La., earlier this week. “I told them, ‘I want you to think big, and I want you to think bold. Nothing is off the table,’” added Wilson.
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.