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CSAF endorses more nuke consolidation

Here's an update for your org chart: The Air Force is moving the units responsible for handling its nuclear weapons under the aegis of its newish Global Strike Command, the service announced Monday.

Although B-2s, B-52s, ICBMs and their support crews have been part of Global Strike for two years, the "munitions support squadrons" that handle the actual weapons have been organized under Air Force Materiel Command. When the Air Force suffered all those high-profile embarrassments over its nuclear mission, it wanted to rebuild its nuke-handling ability from the ground up, even as it stood up Global Strike Command. Today the munitions support units are ready to be part of the larger team, Schwartz said.

Per the Air Force's announcement:

"The munitions squadrons were placed under Air Force Materiel Command at the outset of our effort to reinvigorate the nuclear enterprise," Schwartz said. "AFMC and its leaders have done an outstanding job restoring excellence in munitions operations, and they, along with the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, will remain a key part of the nuclear munitions sustainment and integration process."

The realignment will allow for enhanced unity of command under a single major command responsible for most of the nuclear operational mission, he said. This will continue focused oversight and standardization of nuclear weapons, cruise missiles, and re-entry vehicles/systems maintenance, storage, accountability, handling and control.

"Most important, by doing this we are continuing to strengthen the nuclear enterprise while seeking constant improvement and doing things the best way possible for safe, secure and effective operations," Schwartz said.

Which units does this affect? Here they are, again per the Air Force:

The 798th Munitions Maintenance Group at Minot Air Force Base, N.D.; 498th Munitions Maintenance Group at Whiteman AFB, Mo.; 15th Munitions Squadron at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; 16th Munitions Squadron at Malmstrom AFB, Mont.; 17th Munitions Squadron at Minot AFB; 19th Munitions Squadron at Whiteman AFB; 498th Nuclear Systems Wing at Kirtland AFB, N.M.; and 798th Munitions Maintenance Group, Detachment 1, at Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

The next shoes to drop could be "manpower and unit realignments," the Air Force says, suggesting that Global Strike might want to combine these units coming in with existing groups it already uses in support of handling nukes. Whatever happens, Schwartz clearly believes that letting Global Strike boss Lt. Gen. Jim Kowalski have command of everyone involved is a big vote of confidence in him and the unit.

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