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Key provisions secured for Barksdale

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(U.S. Air Force Photo/Micah Garbarino) The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex completed on-time delivery of the first B-52 Stratofortress equipped with the Combat Network Communications Technology upgrade.

The future of Barksdale Air Force Base looks to be very stable after announcements last week.

U.S. Senator David Vitter, R-La., announced several key provisions in the Defense Authorization Act for the Air Force base located in Bossier City, while the Air Force announced it would be elevating the leadership of Global Strike Command to a four-star general.

“That is really positive and important and will serve the growth and mission of Barksdale. That is a huge win for Barksdale and north Louisiana,” said Vitter in a radio interview shared with the Press-Tribune by Tom Pace’s Talk of the Town.

Vitter didn’t give a timeframe for the upgrade but said it should be very soon. A release from Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and GSC said the proposal’s details will be worked out over the next few months.

The decision to promote Global Strike Command leadership from a three-star to four-star general increases stature for the mission and ensures that commander access to national strategy, policy and direction at Air Force meetings. Global Strike Command is currently helmed by three-star general, Stephen Wilson.

This move is expected to protect and strengthen the nuclear triad’s mission, securing the vitality of BAFB at a time when defense spending has been drastically cut.

“The stronger Barksdale is, the better it is for Shreveport-Bossier. All of these provisions secure the future of Barksdale, which is a huge part of our north Louisiana economy,” said Vitter.

According to Vitter, other provisions included are added staffing and moving forward with a weapons storage area. This will answer the question of whether nuclear weapons are housed at Barksdale.

“That’s what this is about. That consolidated this with some other areas, but obviously the bomber fleet at Barksdale handles that all the time,” said Vitter.

Additionally, the Air Force has redirected $50 million in Fiscal Year 2014 funding to address urgent, near-term nuclear sustainment shortfalls by internally reallocating all of the sustainment funds that Global Strike Command can execute Fiscal 2014, as well as $350 million over the future years’ defense program.

Vitter, a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, has been pushing for the four-star designation for years. In April, Vitter met with General Welsh about the elevation of command.

All of the provisions will need to be approved by Congress.

The nuclear triad, managed by Global Strike Command, consists of three bomber bases and three land-based nuclear missile bases. Air Force Global Strike Command was formed out of realignment in August 2009 due to a mishap involving nuclear weapons on a B-52 mission from Barksdale to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.