Engage

Twitter
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Twitter
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Twitter
Logo
Twitter
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Twitter
Logo
Twitter
Logo
Twitter
Logo
Twitter
Logo
Twitter
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Twitter
Logo
Twitter
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Facebook
Logo
Facebook
2,119,011
Like Us
Twitter
450,618
Follow Us
YouTube Google+ Blog RSS Instagram

Air Force officials address systemic problems in ICBM force

WASHINGTON (AFNS) --

After meeting with thousands of Airmen in the ICBM community, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said she believes there is a systemic problem among missile launch officers.

James and Lt. Gen. Stephen W. Wilson, the commander of the Global Strike Command, briefed the press Jan. 30, as part of the on-going examination of this leg of the nuclear triad following revelations that missile launch officers had cheated on a test at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

The number of those implicated in the Malmstrom scandal has risen to 92, James said.

“I heard repeatedly from teammates that the need for perfection has created a climate of undue stress and fear,” James told reporters. "I heard repeatedly that the system can be very punitive, come down very hard in the case of even small, minor issues that crop up, but not equally rewarding or incentivized for excellent behavior or good work.”

Personnel of all ranks complained to her about micro-management.
  
“I also heard that although we, as senior leaders, talk about the importance of the mission that the team in the field doesn’t always see that talk backed up by concrete action,” she said.

Fixing the systemic issues will require a holistic approach, the secretary said, and that will be part of the plan she presents to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in 60 days.

James had another observation that the ICBM force has lost the distinction between training and testing. It is also to make mistakes in training, she said.

“The idea is to learn and do better,” she said.

But training tests have assumed an outsized importance, she said.

“Although … a passing grade on these tests is 90 percent, the missileers are still driven to score 100 percent, all of the time,” she said. “This is because their commanders are using these test scores to be a top differentiator, if not the sole differentiator on who gets promoted.

“I believe that a very terrible irony in this whole situation is that these missileers didn't cheat to pass, they cheated because they felt driven to get 100 percent, getting 90 percent or 95 percent was considered a failure in their eyes,” she continued.

The secretary wondered whether missileers are receiving the right kind of leadership training. She and other Air Force leaders will examine this and include those recommendations in the report to the defense secretary.

This leads to a campaign to reinvigorate the service’s core values.

“We’re going to go back to basics, and we’re going to remind people what that means,” she said. “We’re going to do this across the Air Force.”

The secretary will also look at “nuclear incentives, accolades and recognition.”

If the ICBM mission is important, is the service rewarding those involved in it appropriately? The Air Force is working with the Navy and U.S. Strategic Command to share best practices on this subject.

Among the issues the service will study is whether to consider nuclear duty incentive pay and whether to award ribbons and medals for participation in this career field.

“This pertains very much to the enlisted team, as well as to the officer team, because they’re working very hard every day as well,” James said.

Finally it comes down to money. Nuclear facilities are aging and units are undermanned, James said. If the mission is so important, shouldn't it be funded better?

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.
comments powered by Disqus