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Air Force to begin rotating launch officers

Aug. 30, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
2nd Lt. Oliver Parsons, left, and 1st Lt. Andy Parthum check systems in the underground control room where they work at an ICBM launch control facility near Minot, N.D. Now airmen can trade places with those on other bases.
2nd Lt. Oliver Parsons, left, and 1st Lt. Andy Parthum check systems in the underground control room where they work at an ICBM launch control facility near Minot, N.D. Now airmen can trade places with those on other bases. (Charlie Riedel/The Associated Press)
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The latest change in the nuclear missile career field will let airmen trade places with each other, opening up opportunities for officers to work on a different base for three months.

The program, announced Wednesday, will transfer small groups of airmen to give them first-hand experience with operations in another squadron. Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, has received four officers from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, and three from F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming. Seven officers from Minot were sent to fill the places of the airmen from Malmstrom and F.E. Warren.

“The idea is that the folks embedding with us for 90 days would be able to experience at the ground level some of the changes and initiatives we’re implementing as part of the Force Improvement Program,” Lt. Col. David Rickards, deputy group commander of the 91st Operations Group at Minot, said in a release announcing the program.

The airmen who transfer to Minot will see changes the base has implemented in testing. Missile officers will be tested quarterly, as opposed to monthly, and will have a second simulator session each month to practice, according to Global Strike Command. The purpose of the changes is to emphasize hands-on training and empower crew commanders to be responsible for the proficiency of their crews.

This is the second recent “changing places” initiative announced by the command.

Last month, the command launched a program to send Air Force missile officers to work in Navy submarine commands. The program, called Striker Trident, will rotate up to four missile and nuclear operations officers in three-year assignments.

The changes stem from Global Strike Command’s Force Improvement Program — a bottom-up review of morale and career development issues among nuclear missile officers. The program started following the disclosure that more than 90 missile officers at Malmstrom had been caught up in a investigation of cheating on proficiency tests.

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