SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS)Â --Â The U.S. Strategic Command's Air Force Global Strike Command's mission relies on the Illinois Air National Guard's 126th Air Refueling Wing for execution.
The wing supports STRATCOM's global strike and strategic deterrence missions with aerial refueling, said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, the STRATCOM commander, in a 2014 congressional posture statement.
"The existential threat posed by a nuclear attack requires the U.S. to maintain a credible and capable deterrent force," Haney said.
The 126 ARW KC-135RT Stratotankers support STRATCOM's bomber portion of that deterrence mission; and are the only aerial refuelers in the Illinois ANG.
"The 126th ARW always betters the mission of nuclear deterrence by being in a constant state of training to always be ready to execute the nuclear mission," said Maj. Benjamin Louden, a pilot assigned to the 126 ARW.
Practicing the nuclear mission keeps the wing at a high level of readiness, said Lt. Col. Ralph Delatour, chief of wing plans assigned to the 126 ARW.
"This is a key component of the nuclear triad, and provides national leadership flexible options in deploying nuclear deterrence and strategic threat response, worldwide," Delatour said.
The wing maintains the highest level of readiness, being able to respond in support to the global strike mission.
"This instills credible deterrence in our countrymen and our allies, the ability to safely and effectively safeguard our nuclear arsenal, while also ensuring our adversaries have no doubt of our ability to protect our national interest," Delatour said.
Without aerial refueling, other planes could not reach their destinations and not complete their mission, said Col. Peter Nezamis, the 126 ARW commander.
"... Our nuclear mission is the most important thing because it has to be perfect," Nezamis said.