55th Wing in the Fight

  • Published
  • By Maj. Anthony Brown
  • 55th Wing Plans and Programs
Nuclear weapons changed not only the course of war on the battlefield, but the very nature of strategic conflict. The U.S. and Soviet Union rolled straight from World War II into the Cold War and "Nuclear Deterrence" became the new buzzword for national security.

Originally flying fighters during World War II, the 55th Fighter Group was reactivated after the war as the 55th Reconnaissance Group assigned to Strategic Air Command at Offutt Air Force Base, and to this day, the 55th Wing has been essential in supporting the nuclear deterrence mission.

While the 55th Wing is engaged in ongoing contingency operations throughout the world, it's important to emphasize its ongoing commitment to the nuclear enterprise, and a few months ago, the Air Force released the Flight Plan for the Air Force Nuclear Enterprise.

"The nuclear deterrence mission has its origin in the very founding of our Air Force," according to the Flight Plan. "Since that time, the Nation has been using Air Force nuclear weapons and delivery systems every day to deter our enemies and assure our allies. Performance of that mission requires global situational awareness, rapid decision-making, effective force management and reliable force direction. For this reason, mission success requires that every Airman understand their role in the [Nuclear Enterprise] and contribute to its improvement."

Of particular note to the 55th Wing, the flight plan emphasizes the importance of capabilities that we bring to the nuclear enterprise.

"Air Force bombers and [intercontinental ballistic missiles] provide two legs of the triad while our Nuclear Command, Control and Communications [NC3], and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capabilities provide the President with the tools to maintain situational awareness and employ all strategic forces," according to the Flight Plan. "The Air Force is the main provider of ISR and NC3 capabilities supporting all phases of deterrence operations - situation monitoring, decision making, force management and force direction."

The 55th Wing has been an integral component in the nuclear enterprise from its infancy, and continues to play a significant role in supporting nuclear deterrence. From providing direct support to U.S. Strategic Command, to flying Open Skies treaty compliance missions, to providing worldwide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, the 55th Wing provides daily support to the nuclear enterprise.

"Nuclear weapons are extraordinary," according to the Flight Plan. "Their effects are orders of magnitude beyond even the most advanced conventional weapons and deterring their use against the United States and our allies is essential to preserving our way of life. For this reason, as long as nuclear weapons exist, there will be no mission more important than maintaining nuclear deterrence and safeguarding the Nation's nuclear capabilities."

The 55th Wing supports the nuclear enterprise through its participation in USSTRATCOM exercises and training events, providing the wing with opportunities to demonstrate its ability to conduct ISR and NC3 missions. These opportunities allow Offutt Airmen to be challenged in supporting operations both at home and worldwide.

U.S Air Force Col. Gregory Guillot, 55th Wing commander, reinforced the importance of the nuclear mission to the 55th Wing during a recent Nuclear Executive Council, "This may not be our most frequent mission, but it is our most important!"