James visits F.E. Warren, discusses force improvement efforts

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Esther Willett
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Lt. Gen. Jack Weinstein, the deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration, visited F.E. Warren Air Force Base to speak directly with Airmen about ongoing improvement efforts throughout the nuclear enterprise, Dec. 7-8.

During the visit, James discussed current challenges and successes related to the intercontinental ballistic missile mission with commanders, missile crews and mission support personnel.

“Three years ago, we implemented a number of changes throughout the nuclear enterprise, and I am acutely interested in following up to see how we’re doing,” James said.

Air Force Global Strike Command has introduced a number of aggressive efforts designed to make fundamental changes in ICBM operations and culture. Many of these endeavors began with the implementation of the Force Improvement Program in 2014.

While FIP began as a ground-level initiative designed to highlight and address prominent issues, it has developed into a culture of shared practices and innovation. Since FIP’s inception, a number of quality-of-life and operational improvements have positively impacted the Airmen who operate, maintain, defend and support the nuclear mission.

“The secretary and the Air Force in general have done an amazing job of investing into the nuclear enterprise,” said Lt. Col. Russell Williford, the 320th Missile Squadron commander. “FIP was a singular effort to address the culture and climate of the nuclear enterprise, but it was also the start of a new philosophy of continuous improvement. While many FIP aspects were implemented successfully, we need to continue the process.”

As the initiatives continue, conversations with Airmen at the tactical level will remain invaluable, said Weinstein, the former 20th Air Force commander.

“We need to sustain this weapon system until we get a new one. Conversations like these help us when we’re in battles defending why we need to make this investment,” Weinstein said. “What you do every day is foundational to the defense of our nation, so these discussions keep us headed in the right direction.”

In addition to participating in round-table discussions, James and Weinstein also paid a visit to the 37th Helicopter Squadron to discuss the UH-1N Huey. Pilots and security forces members from mobile fire teams briefed the senior leaders on their contribution to the ICBM mission.

Both senior leaders left the base encouraged by the progress that has been made across the enterprise, but fully aware there is always more work to be done.

"I have no doubt our nuclear force is moving in the right direction. It’s good to know what the problems are, but it’s also good to know that changes have had a positive impact overall,” James said. "The nuclear force is at the forefront of our nation's national defense, and I thank you for bringing all you've got to the fight."