Air Force recommends higher rank for nuclear mission leadership

WASHINGTON, D.C. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh on Wednesday announced they are recommending increasing the military rank of the leadership in command of America’s nuclear triad that includes the 91st Missile Wing and 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base.

The leadership of Global Strike Command would be increased to a four-star general, from the current three-star rank.

The proposal will be worked over the next several months and will require congressional approval. “This important mission in the Air Force deserves the highest level of leadership oversight similar to our other operational core mission areas” James said.

Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said elevating the Global Strike Command leadership from a three-star to a four-star general is another good step toward improving the Air Force.

“These recommendations from the secretary of the Air Force and the chief of staff demonstrate the importance of the ICBM force as part of our nation’s nuclear deterrence and the overall defense strategy. Increasing the level of leadership and introducing retention incentives for high-caliber airmen will enhance accountability and morale. The Air Force has my support and I will do my part to make sure their recommendations are implemented,” said Cramer.

James and Welsh also announced a series of new incentives to attract and retain airmen, including scholarships and bonus pay.

The announcement is part of James’ and Welsh’s continuing efforts to implement improvements to the Air Force’s nuclear mission and increase support to the men and women who operate, maintain and support the nation’s ICBM force. Following visits to the missile bases and visits with airmen who perform the mission, James and Air Force Global Strike Command Commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson announced some sweeping initiatives.