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20th AF: Initiatives on the horizon


Maj. Gen. Anthony Cotton, 20th Air Force and Task Force 214 commander, held an online chat with members of 20th AF, Dec. 1, and discussed key updates within the command that affect ICBM Airmen executing the mission.


Cotton highlighted four ongoing initiatives aimed to improve operations across the Numbered Air Force which include family, heritage, continuous improvement and professional development.


The general expressed his intent to focus on families in 2017, which aligns with the Air Force Global Strike Command commander’s priorities, deeming 2017 as the “AFGSC Year of the Family.”


“We need to take care of our families because they are the heart of our mission,” Cotton said.


Cotton then shifted toward celebrating 20th AF heritage and legacy by calling on the wings to create opportunities to embrace and promote the heritage of the nuclear enterprise community within the Air Force. By displaying heritage in every aspect of the mission, from decorated elevator shafts at missile alert facilities to murals in squadron heritage rooms, he emphasized the need to strengthen understanding and pride of where the command has been and its accomplishments.


“Strengthening our legacy is a top priority for me,” he said. “We need to understand where we came from and have pride in our rich and diverse heritage.”


Next, he explained the upcoming Olympic Flag exercise slated to take place in the fall of 2017. Olympic Flag will be an operationally-focused missile procedures trainer exercise to create cross talk within the missile combat crew community. Similar to Red Flags, the goal is to bring crews from the NAF together to share lessons learned and best practices to improve operations at all three ICBM wings.


“We want to open these types of operationally-focused events up for all career fields within our mission, to include a Guardian Sword style forum for maintainers, improving on training and exercises for defenders at Camp Guernsey and incorporating our missile field support Airmen into flag events already ongoing within the Air Force,” Cotton said.


In 2017, both AFGSC’s Global Strike Challenge and Olympic Flag will take place, and in the future Olympic Flag will occur every other year.


Finally, Cotton reiterated his focus and support for creating even more professional development opportunities for all Airmen in all career fields. He stressed the need for every Airmen to become deterrence professionals through exposure to operations within the entire nuclear enterprise.


“We have made great strides, but want to make deliberate, relevant and timely professional development opportunities open to all AFSCs,” he said. “I’m focused on sending Airmen to the right place at the right time to showcase the nuclear triad capability to help them better articulate how our mission fits into the national security picture.”


The general then took questions from Sentinels in the field on topics such as ongoing operational initiatives, command policy and items that directly affect Airmen and their families.


Cotton addressed the issue of security clearance lag times for certain Airmen and reassured his intent to capture the metrics for how many Airmen are being affected. He plans to take action and raise the topic to higher senior leaders.


Additionally, Cotton took feedback on how to instill and promote a sense of swagger for ICBM operations across the wings. Ideas included hosting tribute events and spreading understanding of the nuclear enterprise’s critical importance to the nation’s history and present-day national security.


“We make up the bedrock of national security and I want us to share in our passion for this mission,” he said. “Your importance is relevant to the American public, our allies and our adversaries, and it is my goal to show the world the professionalism, commitment and competence you display every single day.”


Cotton wrapped up the session by encouraging Airmen to take care of their battlefield wingmen and families over the holidays.