BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
There was much discussion at last week’s Eighth Air Force Commander’s Call, as Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere highlighted the unit’s current and future operations tempo, recent Air Forces Strategic reorganization and recognized The Mighty Eighth’s top performers.
“This has been a big year for our Air Force and for us here at Eighth Air Force,” said Bussiere, referencing the unit’s many undertakings and accomplishments.
Two thousand seventeen marked the 75th Anniversary of the historic numbered air force, which was full of heritage tributes such as all-bomber flyovers, a headquarters building dedication (Jimmy Doolittle) and several events honoring past and present veterans.
This year the NAF also implemented a new flight commander’s course, which focused on developing leadership skills for officers early in their career, as well as introduced the first Eighth Air Force Operational Security Symposium.
A topic that is near and dear to my heart, said Bussiere.
On the operational front, two B-2s traveled across the globe to successfully strike two terrorist training camps in Libya, operators from the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron performed the first airborne launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile since realigning under Eighth Air Force, and B-52 crews continue to meet combatant commander requirements in the Middle East.
“B-52 crews are setting records in CENTCOM and at lightning pace,” said the commander.
The list of Mighty Eighth operational achievements is a long one, but there is still more on the horizon for the bomber and nuclear command and control unit.
“We’ve accomplished great things this year, and I expect we will be even better in 2018,” said Bussiere.
To aid in this effort, Bussiere also explained the recent Air Forces Strategic reorganization that took place in October. An organizational change designed to streamline the U.S.’s nuclear warfighting structure and resulted in the standup of the Joint-Global Strike Operations Center (J-GSOC).
Bussiere, commander of both Eighth Air Force and the J-GSOC, stated that command relationships within Eighth Air Force didn’t change with the reorg. Meaning, all of the active-duty and reserve bomber wings remain the same and under Eighth Air Force.
As for the J-GSOC, “the center is meant to be the operational arm of global strike, melding all of the mission sets,” said Bussiere. It is also responsible for the day-to-day monitoring and tracking of forces.
While modernization priorities such as the long-range stand-off weapons (LRSO), B-21 Raider and National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC) Recapitalization program will remain with AFGSC headquarters staff, the defining of operational requirements for new systems would eventually integrate into the center, according to the commander.
One new element of the J-GSOC includes the Joint Nuclear Operations Center or JNOC. Roles and responsibilities that previously fell under the individual U.S. Strategic Command task forces, are now consolidated into one location.
“We have a phenomenal capability here,” said Bussiere, referring to the new J-GSOC. “We’ll continue to grow as a team while honoring our heritage.”
The tradition of honoring and recognizing outstanding achievement within The Mighty Eighth continues, and this week’s commander’s call was no exception.
Before concluding the gathering, Bussiere publically recognized several of the Mighty Eighth’s top performers:
Staff Sgt. Erin Trower – two Air Force Achievement Medals
Staff Sgt. Erin Trower – 2016 AFGSC Media Contest, 1st Place Op Documentary Photo
8th Air Force Quarterly Awards
FGO: Maj. Brandon McSwain
Civilian Cat I: Ms. Angela Hearon
Civilian Cat II: Mr. Don Mooring
Civilian Cat II: Mr. Douglas Skelton
Airman: Senior Airman Rabekka Orozco
NCO: Staff. Sgt. Garrett Allen
FGO: Maj. Chris Duhon
Civilian Cat II: Mr. Jason McVinney
Diamond Sharp Awards
April: Airman 1st Class Miranda Bowen
May: Airman 1st Class Christopher Engelmann
June: Airman 1st Class Shane McCarthy
July: Senior Airman Eric Kimble
August: Airman 1st Class John Augusta
Sept: Airman Marcus Fisher
Oct: Airman 1st Class Lindsey Tharp
20 Years Civil Service Award
Mr. Bill McIntosh