Friday, December 19, 2008

Meet the (Temporary) Boss

The Air Force's newest command has its first leader.

Brigadier General James Kowalski will serve as commander of the USAF's provisional Global Strike Command until a three-star general takes charges of the permanent command next year. Kowalski, who previously served on the joint staff, will run the command from its temporary headquarters at Bolling AFB in Washington, D.C.

A career bomber pilot, General Kowalski has the right background to get the new command up and running. Strike Command will eventually integrate 8th Air Force and its nuclear bombers (currently part of Air Combat Command) and ICBMs that are assigned to 20th Air Force, which falls under Air Force Space Command.

The provisional command is scheduled for activation on 12 January. In announcing the move, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley noted that the new command is part of rebuilding the service's nuclear enterprise:

“With Air Force Global Strike Command, we are establishing a single organization operationally focused on the nuclear and global strike missions,” Donley said in an Air Force news release. “AFGSC represents a crucial commitment to our responsibility for day-to-day excellence and unquestionable stewardship of the nuclear and strategic deterrence missions.”

As the new command moves from provisional to permanent status, it is also expected to gain a new home. A well-placed Air Force source tells us that Minot AFB, North Dakota is now the leading candidate for the command headquarters. Minot is already home for a B-52 wing and a Minuteman III ICBM unit.

The North Dakota base has other advantages as well; there's plenty of room to expand, local real estate is cheap and there are few outside "distractions." Just plenty of time to focus on the mission, something the Air Force nuclear enterprise could certainly use.


Roger Cook said...

Why not call it Strategic Air Command and be done with it?

kitanis said...

Served under the General when he was commander of the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth.

I think that the new command at Minot will be in for a interesting ride before the 3 Star is appointed.

Ed Rasimus said...

Has this wheel been invented before? The politics of this are way too apparent to those who have been around for a while. First, the temp Hq is dumped in Bolling, which hasn't had an obvious mission for decades, but is close enough to Washington and the Pentagon to give a lot of square fillers an opportunity to be rewarded.

Then it goes to Minot, which has had little to do since the dismantling of the major SAC bomber force under START/SALT. (Don't expect a lot of the Bolling contingent to line up for Minot billets.)

I'm certain it will be what we used to call a "Specified Command"--we had two, MAC and SAC. That meant they had a specified mission, airlift and strategic deterrence respectively. It also meant (and this is the clinker) that they were NEVER subject to theater, i.e. war-fighting, commanders. That's why they were almost impossible to employ effectively in the great SEA unpleasantness.

It was a goal of ACC to de-specify SAC bombers and integrate them in the joint combat operations.

The wheel goes round and round, but nothing ever changes.

SMSgt Mac said...

The General's 1993 Naval War College paper Theater Applications of the Future Bomber Force contains one of the most cogent explanations of the 'why' of heavy long-range bombers you will ever read. I cited him in my own Master's paper. The man is an actual Airpower theorist as well as a practitioner. How refreshing.