General Kehler re-emphasizes importance of strategic deterrent mission
By Airman 1st Class Emerald Ralston, 341st Space Wing Public Affairs Office
/ Published June 17, 2008
MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Gen. C. Robert Kehler, Air Force Space Command commander, visited here June 16 to interact with Airmen, tour the base, and talk about the present and future of our Nation's strategic deterrent force.
The commander brought up three main points during his discussions with Malmstrom personnel throughout the day: 1) there is no more important mission anywhere, and failure is not an option; 2) perfection is the standard for the strategic deterrent force, and; 3) leadership is our foundation at all levels.
"The nuclear deterrence mission remains the foundation of this country's defense," General Kehler said. "It is as important today as it was 50 years ago. When this wing was activated in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, this wing came on alert with a mission to perform for the security of the country, for the credibility and the security of the United States, and the world. That mission has not diminished one bit. We still perform that mission with the same high standards, dedication and commitment to the same Air Force core values that we've always had, and I believe the mission of this unit is going to remain important as far into the future as we can see."
General Kehler held an "all-call" for Malmstrom's military and government civilian personnel to talk about the points and standards that make the Air Force good stewards of the Nation's land-based strategic deterrent. He also discussed the recent issues that have been brought to light surrounding the strategic deterrent mission in AFSPC and how that affects each wing that handles nuclear weapons.
"It was painful to hear some of the things that came out of the report that looked at the way we handle our strategic forces," General Kehler said. "One of those things was the Air Force's focus on the mission has drifted, which led to a serious decline in performance. These things were painful to hear because I believe we're much better than that."
General Kehler also said he believes there are many people watching to see what the ICBM communities do next.
"We have a lot to do," he said. "Although I don't believe our capability or credibility has diminished, there are going to be some changes. The next time they talk about the ICBM mission, they'll have different things to say."
While it is easy to get caught up in the successes and well-deserved awards, General Kehler asked Airmen to step back and think about the mission and what it is Malmstrom's Airmen do on a day-to-day basis, and get back to the basics.
"We need to fix lines of authority and accountability, get smarter about our requirements and sustainment issues at the headquarters level," he said. "We need to change the way we conduct inspections, and there will be many upcoming changes to that process."
Changes Airmen can expect to see include a streamlined set of inspections for missile units across AFSPC, increased intensities of exercise scenarios and no-notice inspections, General Kehler said.
"We still have some things to do to restore everyone's confidence in us," he said. "All it takes is one incident to impact the outside's view on whether or not we're being good stewards of our strategic forces."
Although there are many changes on the horizon for Malmstrom, F.E. Warren and Minot AFBs, General Kehler reminded the audience that it's important to learn from our mistakes and take the lessons to heart.
"This is a good opportunity for us," he said. "That opportunity is to take this input, and other inputs as well, to make ourselves stronger and better."
The commander said he was confident in the people, the command and the standards, and that the ICBM force is still highly creditable and capable, which is why it still exists.
An important message General Kehler wanted to give everyone is there is no more important mission in Air Force Space Command than this one; being good stewards of the Nation's nuclear deterrent means we have high standards, and we maintain perfection as our standard, however, we can always be better.
"We are going to make ourselves better," General Kehler said. "There is a way forward to making ourselves better. And I look forward to leading this team to do it."