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The Air Force Nuclear Mission Means Security and Logistics Opportunities

As many of you know, the Air Force has received much intense scrutiny in the past few months about the state of its nuclear mission, owing to several high-profile errors. The major events leading to this scrutiny were the unauthorized transfer of weapons from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana in 2007; but more recently, the accidental shipment of forward-section assemblies of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM's) to Taiwan on several occasions in 2006, which were not recovered until 2008. Both of these incidents involved glitches in the accounting, issuing, loading and verification process.

The Air Force's response to these errors has shown serious re-commitment to nuclear mission oversight. A task force chaired by previous Defense Secretary James Schlesinger has evaluated the state of the nuclear mission and issued their findings in a report entitled "Report of the Secretary of Defense Task Force on DoD Nuclear Weapons Management." This report exhibits many recommendations, some of which are in queue and some of which have been cleared as mission-critical by top brass.

Not all of these recommendations will require support that is scientific in nature; in fact, many of these objectives, as one might expect, focus more on the re-organization and logistical integrity of the nuclear mission as it stands. The task force concluded that organizational changes alone would not affect the needed changes in the Air Force and delineated a path to progress involving many different types of needs that could likely become programmatic.

Among other desired goals, some of the more salient, support-critical goals for Air Force include:

  • Full review and bolstering of the adequacy of supply-chain processes for sensitive but non-materiel equipment, which includes inventory management systems, inventory validity, procedural compliance and information technology systems
  • Integration and full ownership of the ICBM engineering community into a major command at the newly-designated Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, which will handle all nuclear sustainment activities
  • Increased full-scope education and training of the Air Force, including increased frequency of nuclear war games, a school for nuclear operations, and ongoing curricula expansion to include greater nuclear focus
  • A new headquarters office to provide a focus on nuclear matters within the service
  • Based on this activity, vendors should look to see the Air Force continue to refine its internal processes. With more and more new information on the development of the Air Force's future nuclear weapons management being released, GovWin will continue to closely monitor the increased scrutiny that is to come.

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