New Air Force ICBM commander: Cultural change will continue

Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander, presents the Task Force 214 guidon to Maj. Gen. Anthony J. Cotton as Cotton takes command of the task force during a ceremony on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., Nov. 16, 2015. Cotton also took command of 20th Air Force from Gen. Robin Rand, Air Force Global Strike Command commander, during the same ceremony. The task force provides the President of the United States with responsive and highly reliable strategic missile forces, and supports USSTRATCOM's strategic deterrence mission by operating and maintaining the Air Force's Intercontinental Ballistic Missile force. USSTRATCOM, one of nine DoD unified combatant commands, relies on various task forces for the execution of its global missions, which also include space operations; cyberspace operations; joint electronic warfare; global strike; missile defense; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; combating weapons of mass destruction; and analysis and targeting. (U.S. Air Force photo by R.J. Oriez/Released)

CHEYENNE, Wyoming — The has put problems with misbehavior among nuclear launch behind it but won’t lower its vigilance and will keep implementing cultural change within the ranks, the new commander of the nation’s land-based nuclear missiles said Monday.

Maj. Gen. Anthony J. Cotton formally took command of the 20th , which includes intercontinental ballistic missile wings based at F.E. Warren Base inCheyenne, Minot Base near Minot, North Dakota, and Malmstrom Base in Great Falls, Montana.

The wings oversee 450 Minuteman 3 nuclear missiles.

Problems at Malmstrom in recent years have included drug use and cheating on tests. The wider land-based ICBM force also has suffered in recent years from low morale, disciplinary problems, lack of resources, training lapses and leadership failures.

Changes to address those problems began more than two years ago, Cotton said following the change-in-command ceremony inside a cavernous maintenance building at F.E. Warren.

“I think each and every one of us understand that when we talk about changes in culture, it’s not something that can happen in 25 months,” Cotton said. “We will continue to push for that culture change.”

Cotton, who is black, will be the first minority commander of the 20th . He previously was deputy director of the National Reconnaissance .

Present for the ceremony were Gen. Robin Rand, commander of the Global Strike Command and the first four-star general in charge of the nation’s entire nuclear force since the Cold War era, and Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command.

Updating the aging electronics of the Minuteman 3 will be among the top challenges facing the 20th in the years ahead, Haney said after the ceremony.

“The good news is, those designers that built it, built it to last. But we will have to replace it,” Haney said.

The previous 20th commander, Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, was promoted to lieutenant general. He will return to the Washington, D.C., area as assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integrations.

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