General Schwartz: Deterrence is not a fading concept

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Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz reminded community members and North Dakota’s senior elected representatives at a Minot AFB luncheon on Dec. 1 that “deterrence is not a fading concept.”

The general discussed the concept for the new Global Strike Command. He noted that in some ways, the Air Force “is going back to the future” in joining up strategic bombers and missiles into a single command with associated ways to sustain them.

But the new command will not, he said, be a reincarnation of the old Strategic Air Command. It will focus on “compliance, perfection as a standard, and on how we support the entire enterprise in a way our country has every right to expect.”

Rather than distributing strategic tasks around with many people responsible, all with overlapping responsibilities, General Schwartz said this new command will “clarify and crystallize duties, make lines of supervision very clear, and identify the accountable parties.”

The new “home” for the new Global Strike Command is still being evaluated, but the general expects the decision to be announced in the spring.

What had been decided was the selection of Minot AFB as the preferred location to receive a second B-52 squadron. Pending the outcome of an environmental impact analysis, the additional squadron would stand up at Minot AFB by late 2009 or early 2010. The B-52 will remain “the most visible and certainly the most plentiful nuclear-capable bomber we have,” General Schwartz said.

On the horizon for the Air Force is the next-generation bomber, which could be part of the inventory as early as 2018, though likely later, he said. 

“Whether it will be manned or not is still an open question,” General Schwartz said.

The next bomber, he said, must able to “penetrate denied airspace, deliver weapons and stay there for a long time, with sensors that allow it to operate in lethal environments.”

“Clearly there’s a need for us to ensure other adversaries are not emboldened,” he said. “We need to be a full-spectrum force.”

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