Air Force Nuclear Personnel to Get Bump in Pay

In this photo taken June 24, 2014, 2nd Lt. Oliver Parsons, left, and 1st Lt. Andy Parthum go through a checklist in the underground control room where they work a 24-hour shift at an ICBM launch control facility at Minot Air Force Base. Charlie Riedel/AP

WASHINGTON — Missileers and some enlisted airmen will soon see a boost in their paychecks, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James announced Monday.

Effective October 1, officers manning the nation's launch control centers will receive an additional $300 per month in incentive pay. Airmen in certain enlisted fields throughout the nuclear enterprise will also receive up to $300 in monthly special duty assignment pay.

James did not specify which enlisted fields will be eligible for the extra cash.

"There's no question in my mind that our nuclear mission is first and foremost," James said at an Air Force Association conference in National Harbor, Md.

The pay raise is part of a broader effort to address what Air Force leaders have deemed "systemic" problems within the nuclear enterprise, particularly among missileers who are responsible for launching the most destructive weapons on earth in the event of nuclear war.

Over the past year, the service learned of widespread cheating on nuclear launch tests, as well as low morale among airmen involved in the nuclear field who felt they were being ignored in the post-Cold War era when the likelihood of nuclear combat is seen as remote.

Other steps being taken to improve the nuclear enterprise include:

  • Redirecting more than $500 million over the next several years toward facilities sustainment, bomber and missile operations support, launch control center refurbishment, updated security force equipment and uniforms, and other initiatives.
  • The creation of a new Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal for outstanding airmen.
  • Providing more money to fund ROTC scholarships for future missileers.
  • Increasing manning levels.
  • A recommendation for Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to elevate the commander of Air Force Global Strike Command from a three-star to a four-star position.
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