20th Air Force’s newest commander has a number-one priority: keep the long history of excellence
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MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D.— The 20th Air Force’s newest commander has a number-one priority: keep the long history of excellence.
“Twentieth Air Force is built on the backs of Minot, F.E. Warren and Malmstrom [Air Force bases],” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Deppe during his first base visit as the numbered Air Force commander Dec. 6-8. “I want to keep the long history of excellence moving but at the same time, we need to look at how we do things today.”
He explained the intercontinental ballistic missile force operates the same as it did at its inception during the beginning of the Cold War.
“I would like to think about smarter, better, more efficient ways we can accomplish our mission in today’s environment,” said General Deppe. “And maybe do things differently.”
One way the force is improving is the modernization of the ICBM weapon system. The Air Force is spending $6 billion modifying the system to operate another 25 to 30 years.
“By 2012, we will have basically a completely new missile in the silos here, in Wyoming and Montana,” the general said. “All stages are being replaced as well as the guidance sets, warheads, command-and-control electronics, and power systems.”
Another way the force is improving is educating its people. The NAF developed the ICBM Center of Excellence.
“The idea was actually Maj. Gen. Tom Neary’s [20th AF commander from 1998 to 2000]. It’s a center where we can take some of our best and brightest people and have them think about how we operate today,” explained General Deppe. “It’s also a way to standardize information going to the three wings.”
According to the general, the center has courses to train Airmen to be instructors and evaluators. All missileers who become instructors attend a course at ICE to learn how to teach people ensuring the three wings are committed in their course of instruction.