Air Force Defends Shielding Nuclear Force from Service Cutbacks

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and service Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh  spoke to reporters Wednesday. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and service Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh spoke to reporters Wednesday. United States Air Force

Air Force brass on Wednesday defended their decision to spare nuclear-arms personnel from the force cutbacks happening in other parts of the service.

The Air Force announced in June that it had decided to retain 4,000 airmen working in the nuclear mission who would otherwise have faced possible involuntary separation from the service. In explaining the decision, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said it wasnecessary to have "full manning in our nuclear positions" because of the "vital importance of this mission." Earlier this spring, the secretary told the Air Force Times that due to budget constraints the service intended to reduce its active-duty force by 16,700 personnel in the next fiscal year.

At a Pentagon press conference, James said it was necessary for the Air Force to prioritize its missions. "Nuclear is number one. And people need to understand that," she was quoted as saying in an official transcript.

The Air Force this year has publicly shown more concern for its strategic deterrence mission, after a number of scandals highlighted low morale and a lack of professionalism by some airmen assigned to maintain, operate and protect the service's arsenal of strategic nuclear-tipped missiles.

Official investigations and independent analysis of the problem concluded that a number of missileers perceived that the nuclear arms mission had become a lower priority for service leaders, as evidenced, for example, by the lack of attention being given to their degrading support infrastructure.

"We're shifting resources and we're shifting personnel," James said on Wednesday. "The personnel aren't all there on station yet, but they'll be coming."

The Air Force in June said it was redirecting $50 million in fiscal 2014 funds toward the immediate rehabilitation of the infrastructure that nuclear airmen rely on. The money also would help to address certain "people issues," according to the service.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.