Nuclear Weapons Center the right organization at the right time

  • Published
  • By Mara Minwegen
  • 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the Nuclear Weapons Center has been activated.”

With that announcement March 31, Kirtland Air Force Base took another important step in its long history as a center of nuclear activity.

In a ceremony replete with military tradition, Col. Gregory Foraker, formerly the director of the Nuclear Weapons Directorate here, assumed command of the Nuclear Weapons Center. Maj. Gen. Arthur B. Morrill, director of Logistics, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, presented the command. He represented Gen. Bruce Carlson, the commander of AFMC.

In his remarks, General Morrill emphasized his confidence in Colonel Foraker to meet the challenge of heading the center. He stressed the significance of the activation.

“This is really a national event. This is a capability of the United States. It represents the excellence Americans have been known for,” General Morrill said.

Colonel Foraker also spoke of the importance of the center to the nation and the challenges presented by a new organization that has been in the planning stages for several years.

“This is the right organization at the right time,” he said.

Colonel Foraker praised the leadership here and especially noted the Airmen who man the Kirtland Underground Munitions Maintenance and Storage Complex, which General Morrill toured.

“Their pride encapsulated what the Nuclear Weapons Center is about …I know the caliber of Airmen we have here,” he said.

The activation of the Nuclear Weapons Center results in the activation of the 498th Armament Systems Wing, the 498th Nuclear Systems Group, the 498th Missile Sustainment Group and the 498th Munitions Maintenance Group. The 377th Maintenance Group is inactivated and the 377th Air Base Wing is reassigned.

The 377th Air Base Wing will remain Kirtland’s host organization, responsible for nuclear surety, expeditionary forces, and operating support for more than 100 associate units on base. The 377th ABW commander will report to the new center commander, who will report directly to the Air Force Materiel Command commander at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

In a press conference following the ceremony, Colonel Foraker said that the center will function as a central organization for nuclear management and information. He said that the leaders here will have input into Air Force nuclear policy, which in turn is heard at the Department of Defense and national policy levels.