The End of the Cold War 2 of 2

SAC is Replaced by STRATCOM

In 1992, Offutt Air Base faced monumental changes when the easing of world tensions allowed the United States to reorganize its Air Force. After 46 years, SAC was deactivated on June 1, 1992, and a new, unified command, STRATCOM was activated. The beginning of STRATCOM coincided with the change from a world with two super-powers facing each other to a world with one super-power and many other powerful nations and coalitions of power.

STRATCOM controlled the U.S. nuclear arsenal in case of another war. Offutt’s 55th Air Wing flew reconnaissance missions throughout the world. At the end of the 20th century, the 55th remained the largest wing in the U.S. Air Combat Command. STRATCOM had the responsibility for weapons on nuclear alert, including land and sea-based ballistic missiles, long range bombers, and air-refueling tankers, controlling all of the nuclear weapons that were at the disposal of the U.S. Air Force and Navy around the world.

dismantled B-52s
Under the the terms of recent arms reduction treaties, B-52s were dismantled at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.
Courtesy U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency
B-52s in mothballs B-52s in mothballs
These photos show the enormity of the B-52 "boneyard".
Courtesy U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency

When STRATCOM began, the Looking Glass flights became a joint Air Force and Navy operation. Personnel from both services provided round-the-clock, survivable, alternate command of strategic forces during national emergencies.

In fact, all of STRATCOM became a joint operation with personnel from all four services — Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marines. Yet, for all the changes, the mission remained the same — to deter a military attack on the United States and its allies, and should deterrence fail, employ forces so as to achieve national objectives.

Other responsibilities included:

  • Providing intelligence on countries and other entities possessing or seeking weapons of mass destruction.

  • Providing support to other combatant command commanders.

  • Developing a Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) that fully satisfies national guidance.

  • Monitoring the readiness of SIOP committed forces.

  • Commanding, controlling, and employing assigned forces.

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