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By Susan A. Romano
AFTAC Public Affairs
For the first time since taking command of U.S. Strategic Command, Gen. Anthony J. Cotton and his Command Senior Enlisted Leader, Sgt. Maj. Howard Kreamer, visited the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center Nov. 16.
The combatant command leadership team came to the Air Force Technical Applications Center to get an update on how the organization delivers decisive advantage against enduring threats from weapons of mass destruction, and to host a Town Hall for the center’s 1,100+ employees.
After a private office call with AFTAC’s commander, Col. James A. Finlayson, Cotton and Kreamer received a classified special topics briefing from 709th Surveillance and Analysis Group’s deputy, Mr. Tom Buist, that focused on emerging weapon systems and global threats.
From there, the guests visited AFTAC’s 24/7 operations floor to see first-hand how Airmen surveil the world for nuclear activity using a wide array of sensors, platforms and technologies.
During his Town Hall, Cotton focused on four main points: evolving environment, integrated deterrence, force modernization, and next generation leadership.
“These are interesting times we are going through,” said Cotton to a packed audience in the center’s auditorium, “and the men and women of AFTAC are on the forefront of nuclear deterrence objectives. But I need you to start thinking about how we as a nation pay attention to our adversaries – not just the rogue regimes or opportunistic actors like we have in the past several years, but the great power players who continue to pose threats to our nation’s security.”
The general also talked about the importance of leveraging every instrument of national power across all domains.
“This is what integrated deterrence is all about,” he said. “We must coordinate with our allies and our mission partners to pose insurmountable problems for any potential adversary. You folks here at AFTAC are getting the job done – no doubt about it!”
At the conclusion of his presentation, Cotton fielded questions from members of the center’s workforce and then presented his challenge coin to six superior performers: 1st Lt. Blake Hohman, Jared Steen, Christopher Wolfe, Leslie Moore, and 2nd Lt. Piper Gray. Earlier in their visit, Kreamer presented his coin to Staff Sgt. Rohan Deb, Senior Airman Alexander Carey, and Airman Robert Blibo for their outstanding performance.
“I am so impressed with the caliber of talent – young talent – that exists here at AFTAC,” Cotton said. “The people of this great organization provide a necessary capability to inform senior leaders on world events. When I was the installation commander here at Patrick, I was quite familiar with AFTAC’s role, but your mission has evolved enormously, and you will remain a relevant and vital part of our national security for decades to come.”
Kreamer echoed his boss’s sentiments about the caliber of people who make up the AFTAC workforce.
“The knowledge and expertise that exists at this agency permeated throughout our visit,” Kreamer said. “This is an important mission, and it was obvious that all the Airmen here at AFTAC take their job very seriously. But what impressed me more was the level of excitement that everyone showed, and the high morale and esprit de corps was on full display. It was very impressive!”
The AFTAC commander was pleased with the outcome of the visit.
“I never get tired of showcasing the amazing people of AFTAC to our national decision-makers,” Finlayson said, “but it is an even bigger honor when we can host the unified combatant commander who is responsible for our nation’s overall nuclear operations. I hope our distinguished visitors will leave with a broader view of AFTAC’s role in STRATCOM’s global mission and I hope they’ll come back again so they can see just how our vision of ‘Science for Consequence’ has evolved.”
Before departing, Cotton took a moment to inscribe his thoughts in AFTAC’s guest book. He wrote, “You are the bedrock of nuclear deterrence. Adversaries know you’re always watching … continue to get it done, Team AFTAC!”