General Lord takes missile message to Washington
“ICBMs perform a vital role by deterring attack and dissuading traditional and catastrophic events”


By Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Thibault, AFSPC Public Affairs
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2005

  
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PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Air Force Space Command’s senior leader shared messages on Capitol Hill of strategic deterrence during National Defense University’s Congressional Series April 20, 2005, before in influential group of congressional members, staffers, academia and local “think tanks.”

Introduced as the “man who has missiles in his DNA,” General Lance W. Lord, commander, AFSPC, spoke to the audience who is also well-versed in the missile business.

 

“We’ve all heard ICBMs are a Cold War icon,” he said. “Let me correct this perception, ICBMs are one of our nation’s icon for strategic deterrence, deterring the most dangerous threats and weapons known to mankind.”

 

General Lord’s messages assured the audience that nuclear deterrence is a core Air Force mission and intercontinental ballistic missiles are a core competency in the Department of Defense.

“ICBMs perform a vital role by deterring attack and dissuading traditional and catastrophic events,” he said.

The DOD is transforming from a Cold War threat-based force to a more adaptable capability and effects-centric force. ICBMs are not synonymous with the Cold war of the past; ICBMs helped win the Cold War. The general ensured that doesn’t mean ICBMs are a weapon of the past.

“We’ve all heard ICBMs are a Cold War icon,” he said. “Let me correct this perception, ICBMs are one of our nation’s icon for strategic deterrence, deterring the most dangerous threats and weapons known to mankind.”

Their strategic deterrence with their superior strength is no match for rogue nations.

“The nation’s strong and ready strategic deterrent capability provides much needed stability through uncertain times,” said the general. “They are the top cover that enables all that we do world-wide.”

 

“ICBMs perform a vital role by deterring attack and dissuading traditional and catastrophic events,”

 

After reassuring possible critics that ICBM forces are here to stay, General Lord praised the forces that operate, maintain, secure and support the ICBMs. Together they have achieved a 99.5 percent alert rate.

“This is a testament to your unique teamwork that is necessary to attain a 99 percent alert rate. Everyone at our ICBM bases contributes to this amazing alert rate,” said the general. “We must continue to operate our systems the same way, everyday, the right way.”

The general also spent some time discussing space professional development, which some erroneously think doesn’t include the ICBM force.

ICBM operations comprise 75 percent of all the current space and missile operations crew positions in the command. General Lord said their very position is professional development for wherever their career may take them.

“Missile crews master operations training discipline that will be called upon throughout their careers as well as enables professional development to prosper,” he said.

With the Peacekeeper deactivation in progress, it was a prime opportunity for General Lord to explain what is on the horizon for the Minuteman III ICBM systems.

General Lord discussed these modernization efforts that are currently underway are:

- Replacing the electronics in the Minuteman III guidance system set to bolster the ground and flight reliability for decades to come.

- Extending the booster life by re-pouring the solid propellant on stages one and two and remanufacturing stage three.

- Modernizing two survivable communication paths from the President…through the SECDEF…to our ICBM forces.

- Refurbishing component assemblies in the Minuteman III liquid propulsion post-boost vehicle.

- Enabling the Minuteman III to carry the Peacekeeper Reentry Vehicle and retiring the older Mark 12 RV.

- Upgrading the safety and security of our Land Based Strategic Deterrent forces. In areas like secure command and control, enhanced launcher entry procedures and decreased security force response times.

As the command works to modernize the nation’s ICBM force, the general discussed how the strategic deterrence mindset has changed.

“There is a new paradigm in place. The triad no longer means ICBMs, bombers and submarines. The new triad consists of offensive strike, defensive capabilities and highlights the revitalization of the defense infrastructure to meet new emerging threats,” he said.

Throughout this process, the general said we are also calling for new wisdom and thinking on strategic deterrence in military academia to initiate debate, stimulate the thinking of peers and help change the professional mindset of the next generation leaders.

Part of that shift is from the strategic deterrence of the Cold War to the strategic deterrence of today includes transitioning to capabilities such as those within the Land Based Strategic Deterrence mission.

The LBSD mission will modernize the ICBM force across the board to include changes to the space acquisition process that will apply to the acquisition of future strategic deterrence systems.

“LBSD will thrive on a spiral acquisition approach that will allow the Air Force additional time to buy down risk and increase funding,” he said. He said that LBSD also has the potential to provide spin-off capabilities that can be used by the Prompt Global Strike, Joint Warfighting Space and Operationally Responsive Space mission areas.

“The state of our strategic deterrent forces remains strong,” said the general in closing. “With future plans and programs, I have no doubt we are making the necessary changes to succeed in the post Cold War era.”


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