U.S. Sen. David Vitter, a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, today met with Eric Fanning, Undersecretary of the Air Force, to discuss their recommendation to the U.S. Department of Defense to elevate the Global Strike Command leadership at Barksdale Air Force Base to a four-star general position – the highest rank possible.
It is currently a three-star position. Vitter has been pushing for this designation for years through committee hearings with top Defense Department officials, and most recently with Air Force General Mark Welsh in a personal meeting.
“I’ve been pushing for years to get this designation for Barksdale, because it’s incredibly important for the Defense Department to recognize how substantial Global Strike Command is to our national defense,” Vitter said. “Having a four-star in charge means Barksdale will have a seat at the table during key DOD planning events. This was a very productive meeting and I’m confident we’re moving forward on the right track. I’ll continue to work with the Air Force to push this final approval for designation through Congress.”
In April, Vitter met with General Welsh to push for the elevation to a four star position, and reiterated to him how it would better improve Air Force Global Strike Command’s ability to execute its function. Vitter also sent a letter to Gen. Welsh raising the issue. Over the past two years Vitter has been pushing legislation and efforts to raise the profile of the command and why it should be strengthened despite downsizing in the Department of Defense. Vitter has pushed for this designation with Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, Air Force Global Strike Command commander, Deborah Lee James, Secretary of the Air Force, and Frank G. Klotz, then Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security, during multiple Senate Armed Services Committee hearings.
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, according to Air Force Secretary James.
Vitter was able to secure a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 that recognizes the U.S. Nuclear Triad, of which two thirds is managed by Global Strike Command, as the highest mission in our nation’s defense. Congress’ support for this shows its long term commitment to Barksdale Air Force Base, which is home to U.S. Global Strike Command and is responsible for the majority of that Triad.