President Obama has nominated Gen. Robin Rand, current head of Air Education and Training Command, to be the first four-star general to lead Air Force Global Strike Command, according to an internal Air Force memo. If confirmed by the Senate, Rand would replace Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, who has led the command since October 2013. The elevated position was first announced in November 2014 as part of a sweeping overhaul of the Defense Department’s nuclear enterprise. “We must change the cultural perception of our nuclear enterprise, which has particularly suffered in the Air Force,” said former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the time. The Air Force’s nuclear community was unfavorably thrust into the national spotlight last year after an investigation uncovered widespread cheating on a nuclear proficiency exam at Malmstrom AFB, Mont. Since then the command has worked hard to tackle the systemic problems, revamping its training in both the bomber and missile wings, boosting manning, investing in aging infrastructure and equipment, and offering incentive pay to certain career fields. Wilson told Air Force Magazine in January that the extra star would be “powerful and important.” He added, “There is a difference between a three and four star. When I go in to meetings, I don’t feel intimidated or encumbered, but there is a difference … It will be a great thing for the command.” Rand is a command pilot with more than 5,000 hours in the F-16, T-38, and T-37.
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.