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USAF to set up Global Strike Command for nuclear weapons

B-52 and B-2 bombers of the 8th Air Force will come under the proposed global command

WASHINTGON DC (BNS): The US Air Force has announced plans to set up a Global Strike Command, which would take charge of all American bombers and land-based nuclear missiles to avoid the kind of embarrassing security lapses witnessed over the past several months. The lapses had led to the firing of the air force secretary and chief of staff early this year.

A three-star general will head the proposed command, Air Force secretary Michael Donley told the media here on Friday. "We have taken many corrective actions in response to painful lessons learned," Donley said, in an indirect reference to the series of disciplinary actions for lapses in managing the nuclear arsenal.
Donley released a roadmap, "Reinvigorating the Air Force Nuclear Enterprise", detailing several steps being initiated.

The air force will also set up a staff office in the air force headquarters, besides the proposed command; Will consolidate functions under Air Force Material Command's Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center; Improve nuclear leadership in Air Force corporate processes; And create strategic plans to address long-term nuclear requirements including those for cruise missiles, bombers, dual-capable aircraft and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

The proposed command will attain initial operating capability sometime in September 2009, air force officers said.

The air force officers said the B-52 and B-2 bombers of the 8th Air Force, and the nuclear armed ICBMs of the 20th Air Force will come under the proposed global command.

However, the B-1 bombers will stay with the Air Combat Command, Donley said.
The decision to retain B-1s under the Air Combat Command seems to go against the recommendations of James Schlesinger committee that had looked into the nuclear weapons management and recommended that all bombers should fall under a single command. Donley argued that they thought they should "preserve the gains made in the last 15 years" in making the bomber force more effective for support of theater operations.

In June this year, the US government had fired both the air force secretary and chief of staff, besides initiating a series of disciplinary actions after major mismanagement of nuclear systems was repeatedly noticed. Two instances received wide media coverage. One was the erroneous shipment of four electrical fuses for ballistic missile warheads to Taiwan and the second was the flight of a B-52 bomber from Minot air force base to Barksdale, mistakenly armed with six nuclear-armed missiles, without the pilot and crew members being aware of it.

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