Air Force brings back missile operations badges, missile wings

  • Published
  • By Ed White
  • Air Force Space Command Public Affairs
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley announced the return of the missile badge with operations designator for intercontinental ballistic missile crews June 6. He also announced that the three ICBM wings of Air Force Space Command's 20th Air Force will return to the convention of being named missile wings.

"The re-establishment of the operations badge to missile professionals speaks to the absolute importance of the strategic nuclear mission," General Moseley said. "It is about recognizing the Airmen who stand guard over the U.S. homeland, providing protection from strategic threats. And, it is about recognizing operational competencies and a singular focus on our nuclear mission as well as growing and developing new officers who will serve in this field - undertaking this very important, very difficult mission where perfection has always been the standard."

General Moseley's comments were made at the Peacekeeper Missile dedication ceremony at the National Museum of the United States Air Force here. Among those attending the historic event were Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne, Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of Air Force Space Command, and Gen. William Looney III, commander of Air Education and Training Command. They joined General Moseley in presenting missile badges to 14 Air Force officers during the ceremony.

Any officer who is or has been combat mission ready, or CMR, as a missile crew member at an operational ICBM unit qualifies to wear the missile badge with operations designator - a wreath encircling the missile. The basic badge is awarded once the member is CMR at the operational ICBM unit. Officers with six years of nuclear experience qualify for the senior badge, and they qualify for the master-level badge after nine years' experience.

Training in ICBM operations is a career-long effort. Crew members complete the Space 100 course and ICBM Initial Qualification training at the 381st Training Group at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., as well as mission qualification training at their assigned units. Upon successful completion of all requirements, the officer presents a certification briefing and is declared CMR.

The Air Force has long recognized ICBM maintainers with a distinctive missile badge. For those who qualify, either badge may be worn with the current space badge. Detailed wear policy will be posted to the space professional development Web site on the Air Force Portal.

"We are committed to the ICBM mission and to re-enforcing excellence in the Air Force nuclear community," General Moseley said. "This badge, with the operations designator, recognizes the career path for our officers in the missile community. We also honor the legacy, importance and unique mission of our three ICBM wings by returning to the convention of naming these units missile wings."

The three units to be renamed as missile wings are the 90th Space Wing, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo; the 91st Space Wing, Minot AFB, ND; and the 341st Space Wing, Malmstrom AFB, Mont. These units operate the Air Force's Minuteman III ICBM fleet.

Standing ready since the 1950s, the Air Force's ICBM cadre of experts earned America's trust and confidence. At the end of the Cold War, many Americans assumed that our strategic nuclear deterrent, the ICBM force, went away with the Soviet threat. Not so. Their mission is still necessary, and Air Force missileers remain an integral part of Air Force operations.