Barksdale Air Force Base Picked as New Home of Global Strike Command
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 2, 2009 Barksdale Air Force Base, La., has been picked as the new home of the Air Force’s Global Strike Command, which will oversee most of the military’s nuclear bomber fleet and strategic ballistic missile operations, the Air Force announced today.
Global Strike Command will include both the 8th and 20th Air Force, according to an Air Force news release. Eighth Air Force’s headquarters is at Barksdale, and 20th Air Force’s headquarters is at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.
The new command will manage B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress bomber operations. That capability was formerly managed by Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Va.
The command also will maintain and operate the Air Force’s intercontinental missile operations that previously were under the purview of Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.
Management of B-1 Lancer bomber operations will still be conducted by Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base. The cyber and intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance missions will be removed from 8th Air Force’s portfolio.
Other bases that were under consideration to be the command’s headquarters included Minot Air Force Base, N.D.; F.E. Warren Air Force Base; Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.; Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.; and Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Site surveys of all bases under consideration were completed March 6.
“All six candidate locations received a thorough evaluation in accordance with our basing process,” said Kathleen Ferguson, the Air Force’s deputy assistant secretary for installations.
An environmental impact evaluation at Barksdale is pending, according to the release.
An as-yet unnamed three-star general will command Global Strike Command.
The stand up of GSC came about from a reorganization of the Air Force’s nuclear-mission organization ordered by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, following some highly publicized operational miscues committed by Air Force nuclear force managers.
The Air Force announced in October 2008 that a new major command would be formed to oversee the service’s nuclear-deterrence mission. Bolling Air Force Base here has served as Global Strike Command’s provisional headquarters since Jan. 12.
Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley said last fall that the reorganization would address some long-standing, systematic problems in the Air Force’s handling of nuclear assets. Donley said inspection of Air Force nuclear assets would now be conducted by the service’s Inspector General Office.
The establishment of Global Strike Command, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz noted last fall, would put his service onto a “back-to-basics” path for nuclear-weapons-realm accountability, compliance, precision and reliability.