SecAF visits Malmstrom AFB for final time

Capt. Cory Elder, 341st Operations Support Squadron intercontinental ballistic missile code controller, left, Secretary of the Air Force Honorable Deborah Lee James and Lt. Gen. Jack Weinstein, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, have a discussion at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., Jan. 5, 2017. James hosted a discussion with company grade officers from all three missile squadrons and operations support squadrons to gain feedback on what improvements still need to be considered within the nuclear enterprise from a wing mission operations perspective. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Magen M. Reeves)

Capt. Cory Elder, 341st Operations Support Squadron intercontinental ballistic missile code controller, left, Secretary of the Air Force Honorable Deborah Lee James and Lt. Gen. Jack Weinstein, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, have a discussion at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., Jan. 5, 2017. James hosted a discussion with company grade officers from all three missile squadrons and operations support squadrons to gain feedback on what improvements still need to be considered within the nuclear enterprise from a wing mission operations perspective. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Magen M. Reeves)

Secretary of the Air Force Honorable Deborah Lee James poses for a photo with enlisted Airmen at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., Jan. 5, 2017. During her visit, James discussed improvements in morale, innovation and modernization with enlisted Airmen from all ranks and squadrons to see what changes still need to be considered to improve the nuclear enterprise. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Magen M. Reeves)

Secretary of the Air Force Honorable Deborah Lee James poses for a photo with enlisted Airmen at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., Jan. 5, 2017. During her visit, James discussed improvements in morale, innovation and modernization with enlisted Airmen from all ranks and squadrons to see what changes still need to be considered to improve the nuclear enterprise. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Magen M. Reeves)

Secretary of the Air Force Honorable Deborah Lee James poses for a photo with missileers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., Jan. 5, 2017. During her visit, James discussed improvements in morale, innovation and modernization with company grade officers in operations about what changes still need to be considered to improve the nuclear enterprise. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Magen M. Reeves)

Secretary of the Air Force Honorable Deborah Lee James poses for a photo with missileers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., Jan. 5, 2017. During her visit, James discussed improvements in morale, innovation and modernization with company grade officers in operations about what changes still need to be considered to improve the nuclear enterprise. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Magen M. Reeves)

Secretary of the Air Force Honorable Deborah Lee James coins Master Sgt. Cory La Salle, 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron convoy response force section chief, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., Jan. 5, 2017. During her visit, James discussed improvements in morale, innovation and modernization with enlisted Airmen from all squadrons and ranks to gain a better understanding on what areas and processes still need to be evaluated for positive change or more effective mission accomplishment from a tactical perspective. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Magen M. Reeves)

Secretary of the Air Force Honorable Deborah Lee James coins Master Sgt. Cory La Salle, 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron convoy response force section chief, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., Jan. 5, 2017. During her visit, James discussed improvements in morale, innovation and modernization with enlisted Airmen from all squadrons and ranks to gain a better understanding on what areas and processes still need to be evaluated for positive change or more effective mission accomplishment from a tactical perspective. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Magen M. Reeves)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James visited Malmstrom Air Force Base Jan. 5 to discuss morale, innovation and modernization of the nuclear enterprise with Airmen.

James met with base leaders, company grade officers and enlisted members during her visit to gain feedback and insight across all ranks and career fields with a focus on areas affected by James' Force Improvement Program initiative.

James said that she has seen vast improvements and success at Malmstrom since her first visit the base three years ago, weeks after becoming Secretary.

The discussions James had included the future of modernization of the intercontinental ballistic missile weapon system and improvement to support areas including security forces and maintenance under the Force Improvement Program.

FIP encouraged a shift in how the nuclear enterprise conducts and maintains career field training and the importance of having professional development opportunities for Airmen of all ranks.

Training changes included going from a primarily testing-based knowledge assessment system to more a hands-on, classroom environment where missileers can learn from their peers.

The professional development piece included James' priority of creating more TDYs and opportunities for nuclear enterprise Airmen to be able to see what the weapon system does or is involved in on a strategic level to demonstrate that what Malmstrom does is vital to national security. She believes it is important for Airmen to understand and know their piece of the international deterrence puzzle.

Lt. Gen. Jack Weinstein, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, who also accompanied James on her base tour, said that the idea behind the FIP was to bring the career fields back to where they need to be by focusing on innovation and putting the right leaders in the right places to encourage positive culture change.

On the topic of morale, James wanted to focus on two areas: positive culture change and having effective communication from the top to the bottom and vice versa.

At the conclusion of her tour, James said that in her opinion the nuclear future is bright and Airmen are the reason for our continued success. She offered her thanks to those who defend and support the ICBM mission every single day and stressed the importance of continuing on the path of improving morale, innovation and modernization to maintain a powerful nuclear deterrent force.