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FB: New money working? Air Force general says more missileers are sticking around thanks to Global Strike Command's force improvement program.

The Air Force has been more effective at seen an increasing in retaining missile officers since it began initiatives to address morale problems in the community, and is planning to spend more money to build up the amount of airmen in critical fields, service leaders said Monday today.

Since launching a "force improvement program" addressed at improving the quality of life and career opportunities for airmen in nuclear communities, more airmen have agreed to stay in their jobs, said Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak, the Air Force's assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration.

"We have development teams ask young officers, 'Do you want to go to something else?' And what we found in these development teams is that the vast majority of our highest performing missileer officers are choosing to stay missiles," Harencak said today at a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace event in Washington, D.C.

The force improvement program, which began last year following the disclosure of a large-scale cheating scandal among missile officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, was a bottom-up review of any morale issues or other problems facing the nuclear community. The program has led to dozens of changes, including new equipment, increased incentive pay and new accolades meant to give missileers more pride in their work. The increased pay now means lieutenants in the 13N career field are the highest paid in the Air Force.

The service has budget $5.6 billion over the next five years to continue investment into the nuclear community, including increasing the manning to 100 percent in eight critical career fields — security forces, aircraft armament systems, nuclear weapon maintenance, missile electronic maintenance, missile systems maintenance, missile facility maintenance, bomber aircraft maintenance and command post controller. This budget, like others in the service, would take a hit if sequestration returns in 2016, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said at the event.

While the service would work to protect its investment into the nuclear community if these budget cuts return, the hit would be about $2 billion from the $5.6 billion over five years, James said.

"The impacts would be across the board," she said. "I'm very concerned about it."

The service would try to protect this community because of its important mission, and to reverse the effects of a lack of meaningful investment in previous years on aging aircraft and infrastructure.

"The nuclear mission is No. 1 with us, but of course it's not the only one with us," James said. "We need more focus, a more persistent focus and leadership in the nuclear (field)."

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