Directors from National Laboratories immerse in Global Strike mission

Written by: Capt. Joshua Thompson, Air Force Global Strike Command
Directors and leaders representing national laboratories from across the U.S. interact with munitions maintenance Airmen near inert training munitions at Minot Air Force Base during a tour of Air Force Global Strike Command installations, October 18, 2023. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, commander of AFGSC, invited the directors for an immersion in the weapons systems and mission of the command while also getting to interact with the Airmen who operate two-thirds of the nuclear enterprise. As critically important partners of AFGSC, the laboratories develop technologies crucial to the U.S. and its future forces. U.S. Air Force photo I Capt. Joshua Thompson

Minot Air Force Base, N.D., and Whiteman AFB, Mo., hosted senior officials representing national laboratories and academic institutions, providing them the opportunity to immerse with the mission and weapons systems of the nuclear enterprise, Oct. 17-19, 2023.

Maj. Gen. Jason Armagost, 8th Air Force and Joint-Global Strike Operations Center commander, led the laboratory leaders on the three-day tour.

“Throughout this trip, the most important thing you will notice is the Airmen,” said Armagost, speaking to the group at the beginning of the trip. “They enable and operate these legacy systems by ensuring they are well-maintained and remain a credible strategic deterrent.”

After an overview of the command at Barksdale AFB, the group departed for Minot. To further immerse in AFGSC’s mission, a KC-46 Pegasus with the 911th Air Refueling Squadron provided transportation between the bases.

Once at Minot, AFGSC’s chief scientist Dr. Donna Senft emphasized the role the laboratories play in modernizing the nuclear enterprise.

“We’re looking for your insights and perspectives,” Senft said. “How can the institutions you represent identify improvements and work toward solutions for the benefit of AFGSC?”

The directors toured both the 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing, receiving mission briefs from both wings’ leadership teams and touring the weapons storage areas, a B-52 Stratofortress, and training facilities for missileers and missile maintainers.

The group then traveled to Whiteman. During each leg of the trip, the KC-46 refueled training sorties for B-52 Stratofortress or B-2 Spirit bombers, providing an up-close look at the crucial tanker mission that enables bomber fleets’ global reach.
“Our bombers, in concert with Air Mobility Command tankers, provide mobility and global power to make our mission happen,” said Armagost.

At Whiteman, the immersion dove into the day-to-day operations that support the B-2 Spirit mission as the world’s only stealth bomber aircraft, including getting to tour the aircraft in person and speak with aircrew about factors that could increase their ability to execute the mission.

The trip concluded with the tour returning to Barksdale via the same KC-46.

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