Aug. 7 marks five years of deterring, assuring

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- In a 2009 speech in Prague, President Barack Obama stated as long as nuclear weapons exist, "the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and guarantee that defense to our allies." This is what Air Force Global Strike Command does, and has successfully carried out since 2009.

Upon stand up, this command was charged with reinvigorating the Air Force Nuclear Enterprise. Although sometimes challenging, the 25,000 dedicated professionals of Air Force Global Strike Command made it possible remaining focused on the strategic value of our nuclear deterrent.

We proudly draw our heritage from Strategic Air Command, a magnificent organization once responsible for our nation's strategic air forces. Most notably Strategic Air Command was charged with command and control of strategic bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Strategic Air Command stood down in 1992 and for nearly 17 years those strategic assets languished until the establishment of the Air Force's newest major command - Air Force Global Strike Command.

Air Force Global Strike Command's activation was a truly historic milestone in the Air Force's history. It established a clear line of authority and responsibility for Air Force nuclear deterrent and global strike forces. Instead of being one aspect of many different missions, it is now THE mission of Global Strike.

Air Force Global Strike Command has much to be proud of at only five years old. We improved readiness by nearly 40 percent and managed to decrease security deviations by nearly 50 percent from 2010 to 2013. Additionally, we stood up our first ever 24/7 Tactical Response Force alert, all while pushing the ICBM on-alert level to its highest number since 2001. Finally what I find most impressive is that Air Force Global Strike Command wings have passed every Operation Readiness Inspection - a marker for a wings' ability to go to war.

While the command is responsible for two-thirds of the nuclear triad, we have an important conventional global strike mission as well. Exercising our long-range strike capability, the B-2 Spirit led the way in Libya during Operation Odyssey Dawn in March 2011. Three B-2s flew more than 25 hours from Whiteman AFB, Missouri to destroy virtually the entire Libyan air force on the ground. That's airpower, and only part of what Global Strike brings to the fight.

As a command, we have also recognized that certain aspects of our culture have hindered progress and growth instead of encouraging our people to provide continuous feedback. The most impactful change I see across our force is empowering our Airmen. Our Airmen have made the past five years both productive and meaningful. They should also feel empowered to identify challenges and propose innovative solutions with leaving their units better then when they found them their goal.

In his activation speech on Aug. 7, 2009, Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz, Air Force Global Strike Command's first commander, stated activation was not an endpoint, but rather "a milestone in a process of continuous improvement in the pursuit of excellence."

I thank all 25,000 Strikers for continuing on this journey to ensure a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent. I am incredibly proud to command this elite force at such an exciting time!