Mighty Ninety, Navy War College network strategic nuclear deterrence

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

The nuclear triad is split into three sections: land, sea and air. The air segment is highlighted with bomber aircraft, while the sea segment is supported with the U.S. Navy's submarines, able to be strategically and discreetly postured. Lastly, the land segment stands alert with missile crews like the Mighty Ninety who are ready to go on a moment's notice.

With that shared responsibility in mind, educators from the Navy War College visited F.E. Warren Air Force Base June 1-2, 2022, to network with current ICBM operators and leaders on strategic competition and provide accurate information to current and future students.

"We service two colleges, one of which is the College of Naval Warfare, which is part of the Air Force's O-5 and O-6 professional military education," said Dana Struckman, deputy chairman of the Naval War College, National Security Affairs Department. "Additionally in the National Security Affairs Department, we teach nuclear deterrence, deterrence theory, nuclear force structure and basically all things nuclear."  

Part of the strategic competition Navy War College educators wanted to elaborate on was the education efforts on how adversaries are continuing to improve their nuclear capabilities and the protection the U.S. provides to its allies with the country's nuclear deterrence.

"Strategic competition is a matter emphasized by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and we carry most of the water for that in our institution. Part of that heartbeat comes from right here at the 20th Air Force headquarters and the 90th Missile Wing," said Struckman. "This is where we wanted to come to see, interface, talk, and pick the brains of the missile operator Airmen. What we learn, experience and see from this visit will help us inform our curriculum for our nation's future military leaders."

During the visit, Professor Terence Roehrig, Naval War College National Security Affairs Department, spoke with missile crew Airmen from the 90th Operations Group, as well as 20th Air Force leaders and staff on the climate and potential and current operations of U.S. adversaries actions on foreign and allied nations.    

"I think the importance of having alliances is not just saying we have it. There has to be an effort put into alliance management," Roehrig said. "It doesn't just happen. It has to be something that takes a lot of hard work and effort and we need to understand that we can't do it without allies."

To give the Navy team a better understating of developing ICBM operations, their team was also briefed on the LGM-35A Sentinel ICBM Program.

"This was an excellent opportunity to help our visitors understand the future of the missile wings and our systems," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Mary Costello, 90th Missile Wing Sentinel ICBM program manager. "It is critical to inform those responsible for the education and development of tomorrow's strategic leaders. They will be the ones in charge of these systems and the future of nuclear deterrence."

With an understanding of past, present and future operations of the 90th Missile Wing, Struckman said he was impressed to see how far the wing has come.  

"I was here 30 years ago, so the 90th Missile Wing is near and dear to my heart," said Struckman. "How you go on alert is different than it was when I was a missile crewmember and I thankfully see a lot a lot of improvements."

In the end, the improvements and capabilities of nuclear deterrence doesn't just protect the American people, but the allies that work alongside the U.S.

"While I think nuclear deterrence is one element of a broad package of being allies, I think it really comes down to a commitment to each other," said Roehrig. "It's about when we say 'all options are on the table' to defend our allies, so the nuclear piece as a part of that and it assures our allies that we will protect them."