BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFNS) -- The Air Force chief of staff opened the first-ever Air Force Global Strike Command commander's conference Mar. 24 via video teleconference, telling wing commanders, spouses, command chiefs and civic leaders from across the command that they have a critical mission that requires constant vigilance.
Gen. Norton Schwartz told more than 50 people gathered in the Eubank Conference Center here that Air Force senior leaders' commitment to the nuclear deterrence and global strike missions is "not a flash in the pan" and will endure.
"This is a tough business, with a margin of error near zero," the chief of staff said. "This is about fulfilling profound obligations for the nation's most lethal weapons," he said.
In the 45-minute session, General Schwartz told wing commanders from the nation's Minuteman III ICBM, B-52 and B-2 bomber wings, "I personally appreciate your commitment to inspiring your teams" in a business that demands rigorous assessments and high standards. "We are all in this," the general said.
The three-day conference included speakers on heritage, professional development and open discussions on issues facing the bomber and missile wings.
Continuing to strengthen the nuclear enterprise is one of the Air Force's top priorities. A part of that process has been to "provide an inspections process that uncovers things," General Schwartz said.
"Inspections are not to give people a hard time, or to make life difficult, but to maintain standards," he said. "It is still a human endeavor. There will be deviations, but we can't ignore those deviations. "
"Folks should not be anxious," he explained, rather "they should see the good in being self-critical. " Results should be taken and adjustments made as necessary, he said.
The chief addressed how it took a full spectrum of people -- spouses, families, civic leaders and Airmen -- to enable Global Strike Command to be where it is today, up from about 100 people on Aug. 7 to about 23,000 and six wings at five major bases today.
Community support is vital, he said, while praising civic leaders' efforts, which result in "making sure we have safe, secure and welcoming" communities around Air Force bases.
General Schwartz also took time to tell commanders' spouses gathered for the conference that "we would not be what we are without your efforts. "
He noted he had learned a lot from the on-going Year of the Air Force Family initiative, including issues associated with housing and the quality of on-base living and schools.
"Thank you for your service," he said to the spouses, "it matters. "