The Air Force’s new masters program for nuclear studies graduated its first class this month, finalizing what it expects to be the first generation of new nuclear leaders. The six active-duty airmen are headed to preselected positions of leadership, including planning positions at the Pentagon and US Strategic Command. The Air Force’s School for Advanced Nuclear Deterrence Studies began earlier this year and stemmed from the service’s reviews of its nuclear community and a continued lack of attention on the nuclear enterprise stemming from the end of the Cold War. “Having a school that really focuses on deterrence and builds up that expertise, and sends those experts back out into the force so that they can spread the knowledge and provide that assistance to senior leaders. That is invaluable,” the school’s director Adam Lowther told Air Force Magazine in an interview. “It does a lot of good to correct some of the challenges that we faced in the past.” The school first began as an idea in early 2015 and was put together in a matter of months. It included 10 weeks of material, broken down into two-week segments. The students also traveled across the country and the globe to visit allies for their perspective on nuclear deterrence. “The nuclear enterprise is really the bedrock of our nation’s defense,” graduate Maj. Robert Evans, a missileer who is headed to STRATCOM, said in a news release. “Especially when we visited Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom. We also learned how important deterrence is to the NATO alliance.”
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.