NEWS | Oct. 6, 2009

ACC officials hold bomb wing transition summit

By Tech. Sgt. Mike Slater Air Force News

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- Staff members from Air Combat Command and Air Force Global Strike Command along with representatives from Headquarters Air Force and U.S. Strategic Command met Sep. 30 to work on solutions for the smooth transition of ACC's three bomb wings with nuclear missions to AFGSC.

On Feb. 1, 2010, control of ACC's three nuclear-capable bomb wings -- the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. ; the 5th BW at Minot AFB, N.D. ; and the 509th BW at Whiteman AFB, Mo. -- will move to AFGSC, with headquarters located at Barksdale.

This is the first in a series of responsibility transfer summits.

"Our goal is to make sure that we have a very smooth and safe handoff of the functions that are accomplished at the (major command level) between Air Combat Command and Global Strike Command, so that we continue to support the numbered Air Forces and the field units that are out there," said Col. Jim Dunn, ACC A/10 Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration director.

Additional summits will be held in November and December.

According to Col. Howard Shrum, AFGSC Det. 1 commander, "I think there are a lot of programs we can transfer over very easily into Global Strike Command. One of the niceties that we have here with Air Combat Command is that they've already been doing a lot of the work, so all we need to do is make sure we have a good transfer of all of that information into Global Strike Command and that we're ready, willing and able to take over. "

AFGSC's Det. 1 staff is located at Langley to aid the transition.

One of the issues discussed at the summit was manning.

"Just like everywhere else in the Air Force, we are finding out that people are really our most critical resources," Colonel Dunn said.

In this instance, the issue is finding people who have the training, experience and background in the nuclear enterprise, he said.

"Making sure that we find the right people that we can move into the right jobs at Global Strike Command has probably been our biggest challenge and will continue to be our biggest challenge in the future.

"To some degree, we are trapped in a 'rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul' situation," Colonel Dunn said. "There is not an overwhelming number of people with nuclear experience within the Air Force at large. "

He added that once the right person is found, getting him or her to Global Strike Command often will require a permanent change of station.

"There, we have a transition period where we lose somebody for 30-45 days as they take care of their family and their lives and make the move happen," Colonel Dunn said. "So we're working very, very hard to make those transitions move as smoothly as we possibly can, to meter them throughout the course of winter and next summer so we don't have a huge falloff in capacity here at Langley or a slow ramp-up at Global Strike Command. "

Representatives from AFGSC and ACC echoed that the partnership between the commands will continue well after the responsibility transfer because both belong to the combat air forces and each command plays a key role in America's defense.