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20th AF: Command progress update




Maj. Gen. Anthony Cotton, 20th Air Force and Task Force 214 commander, held an online chat with members of 20th AF March 13, and discussed high-level Air Force and U.S. Strategic Command updates along with ongoing command initiatives pertaining to Airmen.


Always There


Cotton began by foot-stomping the ICBM mission’s impact on Air Force operations. He emphasized the fact that nuclear deterrence ensures strategic stability and security in all U.S. wartime operations.


“This is something you do every day,” he said. “You allow American troops around the world to operate without contest through global vigilance, global reach and most significantly, global power.”


He highlighted the challenges the service faces as it continues to execute the mission with the smallest numbers in history, along with aging weapons systems. However, Cotton explained that the Air Force is set to add 10,000 Airmen this year and to reach 324,000 in the coming years.  


With the increase in manpower, Cotton also discussed the need for nuclear modernization and investment in the force’s upcoming ground base strategic deterrent, set to completely replace the existing Minuteman III weapon system.


Moving forward, Cotton expressed his support for Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth Wright’s theme that the Air Force is “Always There,” to ensure that every U.S. military mission is successful.


“The ICBM force provides global power at a moment’s notice, everywhere at any time,” he said.


USSTRATCOM Priorities and Intent//20AF Goals and Priorities


Next, Cotton discussed USSTRATCOM Commander Gen. John E. Hyten’s priorities of strategic deterrence, combat-ready forces and decisive response. ICBMs provide a decisive response capable of strategically deterring potential adversaries, he said.


He then introduced Hyten’s four areas of intent, which include deliberate planning, providing decisive response, embracing strategic deterrence and developing professionals and capabilities. Next, Cotton explained how this warfighting framework relates to the Numbered Air Force’s own mission and vision.


“You provide the ultimate warfighting capability in support of strategic deterrence every day by operating, maintaining, securing, testing and supporting our weapon system,” Cotton said. “When called upon by the president of the United States, we stand ready to execute strike operations.”


Describing his force goals, Cotton expressed how, “caring for Airmen and their families” holds up the other three goals of “safe, secure and effective daily operations, commitment to our warrior ethos, and coaching, training and mentoring.” He elaborated that the command will continue to advocate for family’s professional and quality of life needs, provide an array of services and key spouse support, and strive to achieve stability for nuclear Airmen.

He stressed the importance for ICBM Airmen to see the mission firsthand by experiencing important operations, such as maintenance at launch facilities or touring a launch control center. In the coming year, he encouraged leaders to provide opportunities for Airmen to develop within the mission and in their professional goals.


Activity Report to the Field


Cotton expanded on command activities and progress of ongoing initiatives. 20th AF is developing a new two-week Operation Instructor Qualification Course, which will focus on students executing multiple iterations of instruction in missile procedure trainers and classroom environments.


Next, he highlighted the ICBM Center of Excellence and their plan to send 800 Airmen from across the NAF to professional development trainings and visits. Cotton drove his focus on continuous improvement as he explained the recent Olympic Sword, which will result in 4,800 changes in technical orders standardizing languages between operators and maintainers, and the hands-on demonstration of electronic TOs at the 90th and 341st Missile Wings.


Following the continuous improvement discussion, Cotton then focused on ways the command is implementing best practices in the field. This includes the Missile Security Operations Concept, which takes lessons learned from downrange force deployments and implements best practices for security forces missile field deployments. A tiger team recently assessed MSOC trials at the 91st MW and critically reviewed the concept of deploying units as a core squadron fighting force. Additionally, Cotton stressed the importance of enhancing security forces training across the board, not only in the nuclear mission, but across the entire Air Force.


In closing, Cotton fielded questions from Airmen and provided feedback on topics such as UH-1N training, the impact cyber will have on nuclear modernization, developments within the Guard and Reserve opportunities for 13Ns, and how to best implement the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s goal of revitalizing squadrons within the Air Force.