Marc SchanzDown In The Hole

Buenas tardes, ACW addicts. I’ll be co-housewarming Jeffrey’s vacation crib on the Internet for a few days while he’s off trying not to be a wonk.

I’ll try to keep the salsa on the chips and off the leather.

First up, obligatory disclaimers – per advice from my attorneys: My asides, diatribes, opinions and what passes for insight in this forum on all things from force structure to the appropriate number of ice cubes in a Gin Fizz are solely my own and not shared or under the endorsement of, implied or otherwise, AFM or the Association.

With that said, I will now toot our own horn. Unlike George Tenet, we can tell the difference between an F-117 and a B-2.

The magazine, as Jeffrey noted the other week, is chock full of interesting stuff that people in the AC community would dig. It’s big on the “big picture” and we publish a lot of copy on policy, programs and an assortment of historical articles on all things related to the USAF, its legacy organizations and national defense.

The June issue is out now, and in addition to telling you why the AF is pouring booku bucks into hippy-dippy things like alternative energy research, we’ve also got an update on that oft-forgotten (stupid conventional Trident) leg of the strategic triad—the missileers of the great plains.

Executive Editor Adam Hebert (our resident ICBM guru) reports that not only has the Peacekeeper fleet been deactivated, but service leaders are not all that excited about a “Minuteman IV” program.

The reason? Cash Rules Everything Around Me.

Designing new missiles is expensive – especially when there is no shortage of other programs to modernize, according to USAF Space Command.

Money was a huge factor. Over the years, Space Command officials noted, Minuteman III upgrades have succeeded in attracting political support and funding.

Obtaining support for a costly new-start program would have been difficult, Gydesen said, and Space Command believes modernized Minuteman IIIs will meet all mission requirements.

..well, it doesn’t look like a Kangaroo to me, sir.

Times have changed in the ICBM world.

With the sunset of the Peacekeeper and the early reduction of the Minuteman fleet, the mega-warhead fleet of the Reagan era is all but gone (Wyoming’s F.E. Warren AFB now fields only single re-entry vehicle Minutemen) – and a chunk of deployable warheads off launchers means the US creeps closer to its Moscow Treaty goal of 2,200 warheads by 2012.

The downside for missileers? No more 24 hour alerts. Instead three man crews will be on 72-hour alerts, as part of yet another way to trim costs.

While the initial reaction to this proposal from the missileers was understandably less than enthusiastic, leadership is pumped. But think positively – I sense Tetris scores are going to go through the roof.

For more interesting trivia on alerts crews passing the hours, check this out.


  1. Another Anonymous

    Three day tours? No wonder they had to add another crew member now that they have mixed gender crews to mollify the spouses. But that may only make the hanky panky down below more interesting 🙂

  2. Andy (History)

    The Air Force complaining? Unheard of! I would suggest giving those missileers a choice – 72 hour alerts or 3 months on a boomer – They’ll probably sing a different tune.

    In the interest of full disclosure I served in both the Navy and Air Force and so feel qualified to tease and belittle both services.

  3. bobbymike34 (History)

    With the recent test of the RS-24 by Russia it is time for the US to think about a new ICBM. But it should be Peacekeeper II or bigger. Single warhead nuclear payload & multiple CAV conventional coastal launch. The rationale for the large size is so that it can be easily “uploaded” to MIRV configuration to avoid strategic surprise.