Nuclear Weapons Center set to open at Kirtland

  • Published
  • By Harold Meisterling
  • Nuclear Weapons Directorate

Kirtland will become the home of Air Force Materiel Command's newest organization, the Nuclear Weapons Center, on March 31.

"The base has been at the heart of nuclear activities for over 60 years, so it is no surprise that the NWC would find a home here," said Col. Greg Foraker, director of the Nuclear Weapons Directorate.

"Kirtland is a natural place to locate the newest member of the nuclear community, the Nuclear Weapons Center," Colonel Foraker said. "We have the history here and already have the important players and experts in place."

Why a Nuclear Weapons Center?

"Several recent Air Force reviews of how nuclear business is conducted within the Air Force revealed that the community can do better with a re-focusing of nuclear weapon system management and funding," said Col. Terrence Feehan, 377th Air Base Wing commander.

AFMC officials accepted the challenge and initiated action in January 2005 to create a "nuclear" focused organization within the command. After numerous meetings with involved agencies, extensive planning and "lots" of staff work, on Feb. 3, Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force chief of staff, approved establishing a Nuclear Weapons Center here.

The NWC initially includes the Cruise Missile Group at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., the 896th Munitions Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev., the Nuclear Weapons Directorate here and the 377th ABW.

The NWC comprises two wings, the 377th ABW, the host organization directly responsible for Kirtland and its more than 100 associate units, and the 498th Armament Systems Wing, responsible for nuclear weapons system management.

The 498th ARSW is responsible for the entire scope of nuclear weapon system support functions to include sustainment, modernization and acquisition support activities for the Department of Defense and Department of Energy.

Kirtland has a rich nuclear history beginning in 1942 with the establishment of the Manhattan Engineering District's Armed Forces Special Weapons Command at Sandia Base.

The Air Force's Special Weapons Center served as the host unit in the 1960s and 1970s, and the Air Force Weapons Laboratory became the focus of nuclear activity through the early 1990s.

Numerous nuclear activities remain today such as AFMC's Nuclear Weapons Directorate, the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories, the Nuclear Weapon Counterproliferation Agency and a number of other "nuclear" oriented organizations.

(Terry Walker, 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs, contributed to this article. Courtesy of Air Force Materiel Command News Service)