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Accountability: The Most Underappreciated Aspect of Command

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Technical Report

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Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States

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Air Force commanders at every level are accountable for the actions, successes, and failures of their command and those under their command it is the most underappreciated aspect of command. This paper examines two senior officer accountability events the 2007 Minot-Barksdale AFB nuclear incident in which six nuclear weapons were transported with neither authorization nor knowledge of the Airmen involved and the 1994 B-52 crash at Fairchild AFB. In each, senior commanders were held accountable for the actions and inaction of others. In the former, three commanders are scrutinized for their role and willingness to be held to account. In the latter, base-level commanders were relieved and the Air Force Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Air Force were forced to resign. Yet intermediate commanders seem to have been untouched calling into question skip-echelon command structures and general officer accountability.

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