Organizational and Cultural Erosion of the ICBM Nuclear Enterprise
AIR WAR COLL MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB United States
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Two recent events were catalysts in reenergizing and refocusing the Air Force AF on a new number one priority. In 2006, classified nuclear components were mislabeled and shipped to Taiwan and in 2007 six nuclear weapons were mistakenly flown from Minot AF Base AFB, North Dakota to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. In conjunction with many investigations and task forces, the reinvigoration of the nuclear enterprise has started down a path of course corrections. While the nuclear enterprise is considered the sum total of United States AF nuclear operations, logistics, support, and sustainment, this paper focuses on the course corrections needed to address Intercontinental Ballistic Missile ICBM organizational and cultural degradations since the demise of the Strategic Air Command SAC. By reviewing the environments and issues during SAC and AF Space Command AFSPC periods, recommendations are offered to reinvigorate the ICBM nuclear enterprise. Cultural degradations have over time eroded the nuclear enterprise. Significant resources, time, and sustained leadership will be required for an extended period to rebuild lost strengths. In the 2009 United States US AF Posture Statement, the Secretary of the AF SECAF and the Chief of Staff of the AF CSAF placed nuclear deterrence operations as the AFs first priority. With the top AF leaders support, effort must now be taken to correct the current course of the ICBM organization and associated culture. While a daunting task, other accidents offer lessons that organization and culture cannot be ignored.
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Nuclear Weapons