BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
The Eighth Air Force has another aircraft in its inventory, and it’s not a bomber.
The E-4B, which serves as the National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC) and is a key component of the National Military Command System for the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently transferred from Air Combat Command to Air Force Global Strike Command.
A transfer ceremony was held at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., today, commemorating the occasion. The Air Force’s four E-4Bs are based out of Offutt.
“The Air Force is continuing on a path to improve how its nuclear forces are organized, trained and equipped,” said Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, Eighth Air Force commander who officiated the ceremony. “The E-4B may not function in the same capacity as our bomber force, but it certainly has a role to play within the nuclear enterprise and seems only fitting that it resides within the command responsible for nuclear operations.”
The aircraft realignment is a part of a larger effort to centrally manage the Air Force’s nuclear enterprise and supporting systems.
To improve central management of the nuclear enterprise, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh directed that the Air Force create
. an organization with a clear line of communication between the president and members of the nuclear task forces. Air Force Global Strike Command was designated as the Air Force lead for Nuclear Command, Control and Communications or NC3. The nation’s NC3 systems are vital for the president to collaborate with combatant commanders and communicate his authorities to the nuclear command.
As a key component of the National Military Command System, which keeps the president connected to nuclear and conventional forces around the world, the E-4B fell within the restructuring initiative.
Also acknowledged during the transfer ceremony was the activation of the 595th Command and Control Group, the Eighth Air Force unit responsible for the E-4B.
“The realignment helps us better advocate for nuclear C2 and simplifies the chain of command,” said Col. Robert Billings, 595th CACG commander. "One of my first steps as commander will be to address manpower needs and develop the group."
The 595th CACG is comprised of four squadrons: the 1st Airborne Command Control Squadron, which operates the aircraft; the 595th Strategic Communication Squadron, which provides real-time, secure, nuclear survivable missile warning and C3 capabilities; the 595th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, responsible for sustainment and upkeep of the E-4B as well as the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron.
“Ultimately, the realignment of the E-4B and activation of the 595th CACG marks another step in our journey to strengthen the enterprise as our nuclear deterrent forces remain at the forefront of our nation’s security,” Bussiere said.