Air Force Global Strike Command headquarters at Barksdale AFB, La., now has about 860 to 870 personnel, still shy of the 1,000 goal, but probably at a level that command officials can reasonably expect it to hover around from now on, said Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, AFGSC commander, Wednesday. Speaking with reporters at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md., Kowalski said that number is up from about 800 when he assumed command in January. The command, which oversees USAF’s strategic conventional and nuclear forces, is still focused on addressing three challenges, he said. First is “to continue to develop the culture that embraces that special trust and responsibility of nuclear weapons,” said Kowalski. “Nuclear weapons are different; these are strategic and political weapons,” he noted, adding that cultural change takes a lot of time and is a “continued reinforced behavior over a lot of years.” Second, he said, is striking the balance between meeting the command’s nuclear mission with its ICBMs and dual-role bombers and the conventional role of those same bombers. Third is sustaining and enhancing the current force while being able to modernize for the future and manage risk.
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.