Focused on the future, force improvement marks progress
By Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt, 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 13, 2014
MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. (AFNS) -- Over the past few months, many changes have come to Air Force Global Strike Command. What started as a grass-roots effort has become a monumental effort by Air Force leaders and Airmen to foster positive changes within the command.
Leadership being the key word, problems that arise from systemic deficiencies will inevitably make their mark on the leaders who command the system. It is the trademark of a good leader to implement swift and effective change to remedy those deficiencies and work hard to make a better life for the men and women they command.
"The nuclear mission is the most important mission in the Air Force," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. "Were we backing that up with appropriate resources for people in maintenance with spare parts and modernization and all of the rest of it? Were we talking the walk or walking the talk? It struck me maybe we weren't doing a good enough job there, so I thought to myself, 'We need some additional investments in people, facilities, maintenance, spare parts and so forth.'"
Leaders within the command and higher have proven how important the nuclear mission is to them by providing swift change and showing how much every Airman means to them by providing these changes based on their reliable feedback.
These changes have paid dividends to the success of the nation's global nuclear deterrence, while improving the quality of life for the Airmen who make up the backbone of this deterrence.
To date, more than 350 recommendations have been made by Airmen within the ICBM force, and senior leaders have listened.
"Last month, at the Air Force Association national convention, I was pleased to hear Secretary James mention various force improvements, announce key areas the Air Force needs to devote its attention to and describe the nuclear mission as 'first and foremost,"' said Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, the commander of AFGSC. " … Having the support of both senior Air Force and (Department of Defense) leadership is critical to continuing our cultural change. These latest statements of support confirm the new 'continuous force improvement philosophy' is taking root, not only within our command, but also within the DOD. Thank you for your hard work in making lasting change for present and future Airmen."
The latest FIP implementations include final guidance for a new Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, which pays tribute to the men and women of AFGSC who execute the Air Force's most important mission.
For maintenance, $300,000 in funding has been designated for new tools and equipment, and six new authorizations per ICBM wing were approved to stand up the launch control center survivable systems team sections.
For security forces, $10.1 million has been approved to purchase new optics for defenders. An additional $330,000 has been approved for collapsible stocks and shorter barrels, improving tactical effectiveness of security forces weapons. One million dollars has also been budgeted to improve training courses at Camp Guernsey, Wyoming.
In all, more than $200 million in funding between fiscal years 2014 and 2015 has been set aside for this mission. Over the next five years, Airmen of AFGSC will enjoy an additional $350 million, all being used to back them up and support what they do.
"I'm really proud of all the accomplishments that have taken place in less than one year. These are unprecedented shifts in our culture and philosophy," said Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, the Task Force 214 and 20th Air Force commander. "I look at the Airmen in 20th Air Force today as America's greatest generation. They're all serving their country. They're all volunteers. They're all committed to the mission. And they do a great job. I have faith not only in the weapon system, but I have more faith in our Airmen because they care about what they do and they believe in what they do."
Throughout the command, there may be no one who knows how much this funding helps better than Tech. Sgt. Lee Olson, the 341st Operations Group supply coordinator. Olson, currently stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base, sees and moves every piece of FIP equipment that flows from the commercial warehouses to the Airmen in Malmstrom AFB's missile field.
He personally ordered more than 1,200 FIP items, totaling more than $400,000. Every item was hand selected and purchased based on direct requests from the field.
"Lately, there has been a lot going on in the Global Strike community," Olson said. "The Force Improvement Program has been at the spearhead of upgrades and changes that all revolve around improving the day to day lives of our people out in the field. At (the 341st) Operations Group supply we get a lot of direct feedback from the facility managers, chefs and missileers at the missile alert facilities. I am in a unique position to ensure this feedback and these recommendations get turned into actions."
Olson sees the whole process through from start to finish. Starting with input from the Airmen, he coordinates the requests through his chain of command and purchases the equipment needed to solve the issues. From there, he distributes those supplies out to the field via the Airmen who drive out to the sites on a daily basis during shift change.
He gets a firsthand look at how the changes are having a positive impact on the living conditions of those posted in the field. According to him, the new kitchen equipment, cold-weather gear and quality of life items have caused a lot of excitement within the ranks.
"When we get feedback like that, it shows the FIP initiative is working and it is having a positive and immediate impact," Olson said. "I hope initiatives like FIP continue and we don't lose focus to continually strive to improve."