President Joe Biden on Tuesday nominated Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, the No. 2 officer at U.S. Strategic Command, to oversee the Air Force’s nuclear operations units as the four-star head of Air Force Global Strike Command.
Bussiere has served as deputy commander of STRATCOM since April 2020. If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace Gen. Anthony Cotton, who is leaving Global Strike to run STRATCOM after a year in the post.
“Bussiere is a command pilot with more than 3,400 [flight] hours,” according to his official biography. “He led F-15C combat missions during operations Southern Watch and Vigilant Warrior and B-2 combat missions during operations Allied Force and Iraqi Freedom.”
He joined the Air Force after graduating in 1985 from the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Norwich University in Vermont, and went on to become an instructor pilot in the T-38 Talon trainer, F-15C Eagle fighter and B-2 Spirit bomber.
He led B-2 training and operations squadrons at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, in the early 2000s before taking several staff positions across the nuclear enterprise and in Iraq. Prior to joining STRATCOM leadership, he ran the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman and oversaw operations in the Arctic and Pacific while at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
For that service, he has received some of the Air Force’s highest honors: the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and Air Force Distinguished Service Medal; Defense Superior Service Medal with oak leaf cluster; Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters; Distinguished Flying Cross; Bronze Star; Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters; Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters; Aerial Achievement Medal; Air Force Commendation Medal; Air Force Achievement Medal with oak leaf cluster; and the Air Force Combat Action Medal, among others.
Global Strike manages more than 33,000 airmen and strategic assets, from nuclear and non-nuclear bombers, to intercontinental ballistic missiles and air-launched cruise missiles, to the helicopters that patrol missile fields.
As the command’s top officer, Bussiere will be in charge of a massive slate of upgrades to most of its inventory. Most notably, the service is bringing on the new B-21 Raider stealth bomber and the Sentinel missile and retiring multiple airframes.
Bussiere has advocated for new nonproliferation treaties with Russia and China to replace those that are expiring or that U.S. officials argue are obsolete, such as New START, which ends in 2026.
“Every capability in the DoD is underpinned by the fact that strategic deterrence will hold. Everything unravels itself if those things are not true,” he told Sandia National Laboratories staff in August.
Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.