Peace . ... is our Profession:

ALERT OPERATIONS
AND
THE STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND, 1957 - 1991

7 December 1991

OFFICE OF THE HISTORIAN
HEADQUARTERS STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND
OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, NEBRASKA

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FOREWORD

As CINCSAC, it was my privilege to oversee the most momentous SAC operation since the Cuban Missile Crisis. On 28 September 1991, I assembled my staff in the SAC Command Center where we supervised the stand down of SAC bombers, tankers, and Minuteman IIs from day-to-day alert. This event heralded the successful conclusion of the Cold War and over forty-five years of dedication and hard work by the command. It represented victory in the finest sense, peace and freedom through readiness rather than by the destruction of people and nations. Strategic Air Command entered the battle in March 1946 and had relied on the alert force as its primary tactic since October 1957. Through the mere projection of military power, SAC and the ballistic missile submarine force have deterred conflict between the major powers and prevented the employment of nuclear weapons. The events of 28 September represent a tremendous victory for this command and an achievement with which every citizen of the United States and the free world can be proud.

A curious irony of victory is that it eliminates the need for the people and organizations that forged it. Strategic Air Command was established to deter communist aggression, prevent nuclear warfare, and wage the Cold War. The successful conclusion of that campaign and changing concepts in the employment of air power have eliminated the requirement for a command exclusively dedicated to strategic air power. SAC has accomplished its mission and will be retired. The weapon systems it operated will transfer to several new Air Force commands. Future strategic operations, to include bombers, ICBMs, and SLBMs, will come under the purview of a newly established U.S. Strategic Command. Those who have witnessed the events of the last forty-five years may be assured that the legacy embodied in the words "Strategic Air Command" will not be lost. The new commands will carry forth the fine tradition and warmaking ability of our legendary command and the standards for dedication, readiness, and sacrifice that are synonymous with SAC will remain goals for all future organizations to achieve and maintain.

/S/
GEORGE L. BUTLER
General, USAF
Commander in Chief

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

FOREWORD: General George L. Butler, CINCSAC

PEACE .... IS OUR PROFESSION: Alert Operations and the Strategic Air Command, 1957 -1991

APPENDIX I: General Power's Letter to the SAC Alert Force, 9 November 1957

APPENDIX II: General John T. Chain's Year of the Alert Force Message to the Command, 30 September 1987

APPENDIX III: General George L. Butler: Text of Remarks to SAC Wing and Unit Commanders Upon Stand Down of Bomber and Minuteman II Alert, 28 September 1991

APPENDIX IV: MANPOWER, 1946 – 1990
        SAC Manning - Officers, Airmen, Civilians
        Headquarters Strategic Air Command
        Missile Crews

APPENDIX V: WEAPON SYSTEM INVENTORIES, 1946 – 1990
        Tactical Weapon Systems
        Bombardment and Tanker Aircraft
        Bombardment Aircraft
        Tanker Aircraft
        Post Attack Command and Control Systems
        Air Launched Missiles
        Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles
        Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles by Model

APPENDIX VI: ALERT RATES, 1946 - 1990
        Bomber Alert Rates
        Airborne Alert Rates
        ICBM Alert Rates

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GENERAL CURTIS E. LEMAY
COMMANDER IN CHIEF, STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND
19 October 1948 - 30 June 1957

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Peace . ... is our Profession:

ALERT OPERATIONS
AND
THE STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND, 1957 - 1991

During its first ten years, Strategic Air Command conducted operations from sanctuaries, most of them located within the United States. The Soviet Union's acquisition of thermonuclear weapons combined with a systematic build up of its long-range bomber force and development of intercontinental ballistic missiles in the mid-1950s profoundly altered this situation. Defense planners interpreted these actions as a conscious effort to project Soviet military power worldwide and to place the United States under the direct threat of nuclear attack. Given the inferiority of Soviet forces, SAC planners thought it reasonable that in time of war the Soviets would resort to the most basic military principle to quickly gain superiority — surprise.

Growing Soviet military power and the possibility of a surprise attack demanded attention. General Curtis E. LeMay, Commander in Chief of Strategic Air Command (CINCSAC), and his staff at Headquarters SAC understood the need for a quick retaliatory response to Soviet aggression. They also knew that to respond effectively, they had to protect their strategic forces from being destroyed on the ground. Under General LeMay's guidance, the SAC staff generated several studies that sought to neutralize the threat of surprise attack, assure a meaningful SAC response, and make the Soviets uncertain of success.

The alert force concept that emerged safeguarded the nuclear arsenal and maintained deterrence as a viable strategy. It placed SAC's bombers and tankers on ground alert with weapons loaded and crews ready for immediate takeoff. The goal was to keep one-third of the command's aircraft on ground alert at all times. SAC planners arrived at the one-third figure after evaluating training, manpower, and logistic requirements.


COVER SLIDE FROM SAC ALERT CONCEPT BRIEFING MARCH 1956

Strategic Air Command's next step was to conduct three tests to determine the feasibility of the alert concept. The first test, Operation Try Out, was supervised by the 38th Air Division at Hunter AFB, Georgia. From November 1956 to March 1957, the 2d and 308th Bombardment Wings kept one-third of their B-47 and KC-97s on continuous 24-hour alert. Operation Try Out proved that ground alert was feasible. Two additional tests worked out problems identified in Operation Try Out and perfected the alert concept. The second test, Operation Watch Tower, was carried out by the 825th Air Division at Little Rock AFB, Arkansas. Between April and November 1957, the 70th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, 384th Medium Bomb Wing, 825th Combat Support Group, and 70th Air Refueling Squadron validated an organizational structure that would accommodate alert operations without degrading other training requirements. Operation Fresh Approach, the last test, fell to the 9th Bombardment Wing at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, in September 1957. The final test refined the organization evaluated by the 825th Air Division.

When General LeMay departed SAC in June 1957, General Thomas S. Power became the new CINCSAC and the driving force behind the alert program. Successful test results convinced General Power that alert would work. Even though testing had not been completed and many organizational and administrative details remained unresolved. General Power directed the start of ground alert operations on 1 October 1957 at several bases in the continental United States and overseas.

Preparation for overseas alert had begun in July, 1957 when four Second Air Force B-47 wings each sent five bombers to Sidi Slimane Air Base, Morocco. Overseas alert operations, more commonly known as Reflex Action, commenced on 1 October. Under Reflex, SAC units rotated crews and aircraft (B-47s and tankers) to bases overseas where they stood on alert. Reflex allowed SAC to further disperse its forces, thereby complicating Soviet targeting, while simultaneously positioning its strike force closer to the Soviet Union. A typical tour of duty for a standby alert crew in Alaska, for instance, lasted 72 hours. Ground crews worked eight-hour shifts. After 10-14 days, aircrews returned to their home bases. Reflex tours to SAC bases in the United Kingdom, Spain, and Morocco averaged 90 days.


A KC-97 PERFORMS A MID-AIR REFUELING OF A B-47E

As SAC units prepared to initiate alert operations, General Power wrote a memorandum addressed to each member of the SAC alert force explaining the purpose and importance of their new duty.


GENERAL THOMAS S. POWER
Commander in Chief, Strategic Air Command
1 July 1957 - 30 November 1964

"As a member of SAC's Alert Force," he advised them, "you are contributing to an operation which is of the utmost importance to the security and welfare of this nation and its allies in the free world." The CINCSAC then noted that:

the only way of insuring the survival of some of SAC's combat capability, even in the case of the most unexpected and massive attack, is our Alert Force.
As long as the Soviets know that, no matter what means they may employ to stop it, a sizeable percentage of SAC's strike force will be in the air for the counterattack within minutes after they have initiated aggression, they will think twice before undertaking such aggression. For this reason, it is my considered opinion that a combat-ready Alert Force of adequate size is the very backbone of our deterrent posture.

The next month, General Power was able to inform the world press that Strategic Air Command had aircraft at the end of runways, bombs loaded, and crews nearby ready to take off within 1 5 minutes. Eleven percent of SAC's 1,528 bombers and 766 tankers were placed on alert that year, a percentage that would grow to 12 percent in 1958 and 20 percent in 1959. The command's goal of one-third was finally achieved in 1960.

SAC devised another tactic — dispersal — that it used in the late 1950s and early 1960s to complicate enemy planning. Dispersal divided large B-52 wings of 45 aircraft into smaller wings of 15 aircraft each and relocated them to other bases where they were placed on alert. Dispersal tactics increased the number of targets confronting Soviet planners and reduced the time required to get the alert force off the ground. These two factors strengthened the probability of a viable retaliatory attack and added credibility to SAC's deterrent strategy.

While SAC was bringing the alert force on line, significant achievements in ballistic missile technology were already altering the future structure of alert operations. On 31 October 1959, the 576th Strategic Missile Squadron at Vandenberg AFB, California, mated a nuclear warhead to the nation's first intercontinental ballistic missile, an Atlas D, thereby enabling General Power to declare it on alert. The Atlas D and E (the latter placed on alert in October 1961) were liquid-fueled missiles deployed in above-ground launchers. Together, they brought to fruition a program begun in 1946 that profoundly changed the scope and management of strategic operations. A second milestone occurred on 18 March 1960 when the 702d Strategic Missile Wing at Presque Isle AFB, Maine, succeeded in placing the first Snark intermediate range cruise missile on alert. These events foreshadowed a trend that continues to this day. Missiles would become the backbone of the alert force and the major component in the strategic deterrence equation.


FIFTEENTH AIR FORCE RECEIVES ITS FIRST ICBM, AN ATLAS D, F.E. WARREN AFB, WYOMING, 2 OCTOBER 1959

Daily alert operations complicated maintenance and other routine unit activities. Strategic Air Command solved these problems in late 1958 by reorganizing its tactical wings and air base groups. The command centralized maintenance operations by establishing organizational maintenance squadrons to handle all wing maintenance functions. Each wing was assigned a deputy commander for maintenance and a deputy commander for operations. Finally, air base groups were redesignated combat support groups. These changes emphasized combat-ready aircraft and combat-ready aircrews — the components SAC considered essential for successful alert operations.


AN ATLAS MISSILE STANDS ERECT AT COMPLEX 576-B, VANDENBERG AFB, CALIFORNIA


"ON MY MARK IT WILL BE T-15 MINUTES . . . MARK" THE SHELTER TOP ROLLS BACK AND AN ATLAS RISES TO LAUNCH POSITION


"POWER FOR PEACE" IS EMPHASIZED AS A B-52 FLIES OVER AN ATLAS COMPLEX AT VANDENBERG AFB, CALIFORNIA

When General Power announced to the world in November 1957 that his command had armed aircraft on alert, he also tantalized them with another cryptic comment. "Day and night," he stated, "I have a certain percentage of my command in the air." Political considerations in Washington prevented him from fully stating what this meant. The CINCSAC found such restrictions irritating because he believed that the best way to deter Soviet aggression was to convey in precise and deadly terms the military readiness of his command. Washington may have restrained him, but it did not prevent him from getting the message across. "These planes," he informed an inquiring press, "are bombed up and they don't carry bows and arrows."

In developing a plan to protect its strategic forces and maintain a credible deterrent, Strategic Air Command had not confined itself to ground alert. Command planners also produced a plan for airborne alert. As General Power had suggested, combat-ready bombers were airborne at all times. SAC had begun testing a B-52 airborne alert concept and by 1961 had amassed more than 6,000 alert sorties. The 92d Bombardment Wing participated in one test, Head Start II (2 March - 30 June 1959), which kept five B-52 bombers airborne at all times. Each crew flew a 24-hour sortie while ten KC-135s supported the airborne bombers. Based upon satisfactory test results, General Power was able to tell Congress in February 1959:

We in the Strategic Air Command have developed a system known as airborne alert where we maintain airplanes in the air 24 hours a day, loaded with bombs, on station, ready to go to target. . . . I feel strongly that we must get on with this airborne alert. . . . We must impress Mr. Khrushchev that we have it, and that he cannot strike this country with impunity.


A B-52 PILOT MANEUVERS HIS AIRCRAFT DURING A HEAD START II TEST

On 18 January 1961, SAC finally obtained permission to publicly announce that B-52 bombers were conducting airborne operations, but the activity had to be characterized as airborne indoctrination training.

Aircrews responded favorably to airborne alert training. "I don't mind ground alert because I know it's necessary," one crew member noted. "But I like our air alert so much better," he added. "Instead of sitting around and waiting for something to happen, I do what I know and like best – flying." Another crew member during Head Start II mused that it would be interesting "if General Power could invite that guy Khrushchev to fly a Head Start mission with the 92d." The experience, he concluded, "would keep him peaceful for a while!" The same individual then suddenly exclaimed, "Gee, and just think of the money we could save because we could do away with the Army, the Navy and the rest of the Air Force!"

General Power once observed that:

Communications are the 'nervous system' of the entire SAC organization, and their protection is, therefore, of the greatest importance. I like to say that, without communications, all I command is my desk, and that is not a very lethal weapon!

Strategic Air Command took a major step toward ensuring a survivable command and communications network in January 1957 when it moved into the new SAC Command Center at Offutt AFB, Nebraska. Two attached structures, buildings 500 and 501, formed the Center. Building 500 housed Headquarters SAC's administrative functions in three above-ground floors and a basement. The heart of the complex resided in building 501, better known as the SAC Command Post. This three-story underground structure adjacent to the new headquarters building was specially designed to withstand anything except a direct hit by a high yield nuclear weapon. Its reinforced concrete walls were 24-inches thick. The complex had more than three acres of floor space and was self-contained with its own power supply, rations and artesian well for extended operations. The state-of-the-art facility housed the SAC Command Post, a communications center, computers and the war planning staff. Giant maps and panels depicted the disposition and operational status of the entire force. From here, the CINCSAC monitored his forces 24-hours each day and maintained instantaneous contact with them throughout the world.


THE SAC COMMAND POST


LT. GEN JOHN P. McCONNELL ABOARD “LOOKING GLASS,” 3 FEBRUARY 1961


CONTROLLERS AT WORK ONBOARD AN EARLY AIRBORNE COMMAND POST

After examining several alternatives, including a deep underground and a railmobile command post, SAC selected another means of ensuring its ability to command, control, and communicate with its worldwide forces. On 1 July 1960 the command began testing the airborne command post at Offutt AFB, Nebraska. Throughout the rest of the year, one of five specially configured KC-135 aircraft assigned to the 34th Air Refueling Squadron was placed on ground alert and periodically tested to determine its ability to take off within 15 minutes. Once airborne, the KC-135's primary mission was to serve as an alternate command post, one that could assume control over the SAC combat force in the event an enemy attack destroyed the underground command facility at Offutt and other command posts collocated with SAC's numbered air force headquarters. A SAC general officer and a team of controllers and communications experts manned each flight. The test proved successful and continuous airborne command post operations began on 3 February 1961 with Lieutenant General John P. McConnell, Commander of Second Air Force, serving as the first SAC Airborne Emergency Action Officer. Because these airborne operations mirrored the activities in SAC's underground command post, the airborne command post was nicknamed the "Looking Glass."


A SAC AIRBORNE COMMAND POST TEAM ABOARD A "BAREBONES" KC-135 AIRBORNE COMMAND POST IN THE EARLY 1960s


President John F. Kennedy visits Vandenberg AFB, March 23, 1962. 1) Receiving honors, 2) departing flight line, 3) viewing Atlas 134D launch, 4). Atlas 134D, 5) viewing missile/space exhibits, 6) at Minuteman site, 7) receiving missile badge.

PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY VISITS VANDENBERG AFB, CALIFORNIA 23 MARCH 1962

Shortly after becoming President, John F. Kennedy announced a new defense posture. His purpose was to strengthen the nation's military position in light of Soviet technological advances and worldwide political initiatives. The new posture directly affected Strategic Air Command because it increased ground alert to one-half of the command's bombers and tankers. SAC attained 50 percent alert in July 1961. An aircrew to aircraft ratio of 1.8 to 1 was established to help man the increased alert requirement.

The introduction of several new weapon systems reinforced the deterrent strength achieved by the new alert rate. The Titan missile joined the alert force on 20 April 1962 when the 724th Strategic Missile Squadron, Lowry AFB, Colorado, put the first Titan I on alert. In August, the Atlas F began alert duty with the 577th Strategic Missile Squadron, Altus AFB, Oklahoma. These two missiles were the first to stand alert upright in silos, although they were raised to surface level for launching. An inertial guidance system in the Titan I allowed the missile to operate without ground control during flight. On 1 September, the 305th Bombardment Wing at Bunker Hill AFB, Indiana, began alert operations with the B-58 Hustler.


THE CREW OF A B-58 "HUSTLER" RACES TO ITS AIRCRAFT DURING A PRACTICE ALERT

ILLUSTRATION OF AN ATLAS F MISSILE COMPLEX

ILLUSTRATION OF A TITAN II MISSILE COMPLEX

Strategic Air Command also expanded its airborne command post operations. In April 1962, the Post Attack Command Control System or PACCS was augmented with three auxiliary airborne command posts. The new aircraft were established at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana; Westover AFB, Massachusetts; and March AFB, California. SAC then organized four support squadrons on 20 July at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; Lincoln AFB, Nebraska; Lockbourne AFB, Ohio; and Plattsburgh AFB, New York. The command equipped the squadrons with EB-47L aircraft (B-47s modified with communications equipment) and redesignated them Post Attack Command Control Squadrons.


SAC COMMAND POST IN 1962

The organizational adjustments and deployments of new weapon systems proved timely. President Kennedy addressed the nation on 22 October 1962 and announced the presence of Soviet intermediate range ballistic missiles in Cuba. He placed an arms quarantine against shipments bound for Cuba and demanded the removal of the missiles already delivered. Before his speech, SAC had begun to intensify its readiness posture. Battle staffs started 24-hour operations, leaves were canceled, and personnel were recalled to duty. The command dispersed its B-47 bombers, generated aircraft to full alert, and armed all of its bombers with nuclear weapons in accordance with the emergency war plan. B-52 airborne indoctrination training expanded into an actual airborne alert. The ICBM force, numbering around 200 operational missiles, was brought into alert configuration. Included in this figure was the first Minuteman missile, a feat accomplished by the 341st Strategic Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, on 27 October. When generation was completed, Strategic Air Command stood ready to defend national policy with the most lethal array of military firepower in human history. Fortunately, the Soviet Union agreed to withdraw the missiles from Cuba and on 20 November SAC was able to return to its normal alert posture. President Kennedy visited Headquarters SAC on 7 December where he thanked the command and presented General Power with a plaque citing the command's perfect record in flight safety during airborne alert in the Cuban emergency.


BRIG GEN W.W. WISMAN COMMANDING AN AIRBORNE COMMAND POST SORTIE DURING THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS


A MAINTENANCE CREW GENERATES AN AIRBORNE ALERT SORTIE


B-47 BOMBERS DISPERSED TO HURLBURT, FLORIDA


AN ATLAS F ELEVATED FROM ITS SILO INTO LAUNCH POSITION


TITAN I ICBMS RAISED TO LAUNCH POSITION


MAINTENANCE CREWS AT WURTSMITH AFB, MICHIGAN, RECOVER THE LAST AIRBORNE ALERT SORTIE FLOWN DURING THE CUBAN CRISIS – 21 NOVEMBER 1962

With the introduction of Minuteman and Titan II missiles (the latter first went on alert in April 1963 with the 570th Strategic Missile Squadron, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona), the nation's missile force had come of age. These technically improved weapon systems, deployed in hardened silos, gave the alert force the advantages of accuracy, reliability, and a near-instantaneous launch capability. They had a combined alert rate of over 90 percent and an operational cost significantly lower than that of manned bombers. The Atlas and Titan Is were phased out in April 1965.

In less dramatic fashion, SAC accepted and declared operational the three Blue Scout Junior launch sites at Wisner, West Point, and Tekamah, Nebraska. This 11 July 1963 event gave SAC another means of ensuring reliable command, control, and communications. The Blue Scout Junior rockets carried UHF recorders with a prerecorded force execution message that could be transmitted to all units within line of sight of the rocket's apogee flight.

The gradual phase out of the B-47 and KC-97 coupled with a serious balance of payments problem brought an end to Reflex operations. The reduction began in 1963 and Reflex ended on 31 March 1965. Ground alert for the KC-97 terminated on 10 November 1965 and for the B-47 on 11 February 1966. The rapid acquisition of Minuteman missiles accompanying the B-47 phase out continued to alter the command's weapons mixture. On 21 April 1964, the number of ICBMs on alert finally equaled the number of bombers on ground alert. From that day forward, the ICBM alert force gradually outdistanced the bomber alert force.


A MAINTENANCE CREW WORKS ON A TITAN II IN ITS SILO


A TITAN II ICBM IN ITS SILO

Another reorganization of the Post Attack Command Control System took place on 25 March 1965. The arrival of EC-135s, KC-135 tankers specially configured with sophisticated communications equipment for the PACCS mission, prompted the phase out of the EB-47L.S. The newly assigned EC-135s assumed both the Looking Glass and auxiliary airborne command post missions.


AN EC-135 AIRBORNE COMMAND POST

SAC's alert operations were conducted without incident until 17 January 1966 when a B-52 on a training mission collided with a KC-135 tanker during refueling operations near the coast of Spain. Both aircraft crashed near the Spanish town of Palomares. Seven crew members died and four survived. All four weapons were recovered, the last after an exhaustive land and sea search, but some radioactive material was released when two of the bomber's four weapons underwent non-nuclear TNT-type explosions upon impact. A cleanup operation removed 1,400 tons of slightly contaminated soil and vegetation and transported them to the United States for disposal.


COMMUNICATIONS EXPERTS WORKING ABOARD THE AIRBORNE COMMAND POST

A second accident occurred on 22 January 1968. A B-52G crashed and burned on the ice of North Star Bay after attempting an emergency landing at Thule AB, Greenland. A recovery team from the United States in cooperation with the Danish government removed the bomber's four weapons and all possible traces of radioactive material.

Airborne indoctrination training was discontinued shortly after the Thule crash. Although the Palomares and Thule accidents contributed to the program's demise, they alone were insufficient to end it. The operating costs for airborne alert had risen to an unacceptable rate and the advent of a responsive and survivable ICBM force had freed the bombers for more immediate duties.

The most significant demand facing Strategic Air Command's bombers and tankers in 1968 was the conventional operation in Southeast Asia. The first Arc Light bombing mission took place on 18 June 1965. As SAC's participation in the hostilities grew, so too did the demand for aircraft, aircrews, and support personnel. SAC's primary mission remained strategic deterrence and by 1968 the command was required to keep about 40 percent of its bombers and nearly 100 percent of its missiles on alert. But as SAC assets were sent into combat, aircraft units became hard pressed to maintain alert lines. On 12 November 1969, for instance, 75 bombers (38 percent of the regular bomber alert force) were degraded and 53 tankers (27 percent of the required tanker alert force) were not on alert. The generated force also suffered. Thirteen percent of the generated bomber force (66 vehicles) and eight percent (42 tankers) of the generated tanker force could not be placed on alert because crews were not available. Some units remained below a one-to-one aircraft-to-aircrew ratio, a factor that impeded their ability to generate alert sorties. SAC crew members frequently found themselves rotating between combat tours in Southeast Asia and tours in the United States that were filled with alert duty. The war also placed a premium on maintenance and logistics personnel. Such circumstances evoked extraordinary effort and immense personal sacrifice from the members of Strategic Air Command, both in the theater of combat and on the alert line.


SAC'S FIRST MULTIPLE WARHEAD MINUTEMAN III IN LAUNCH FACILITY H-2 WITH THE 741 ST SMS, MINOT AFB, NORTH DAKOTA

Amid such trying circumstances, Strategic Air Command still accomplished its primary mission. The continued growth of the missile force aided this effort. In January 1966, the first Minuteman II went on alert with the 447th Strategic Missile Squadron, 321st Strategic Missile Wing, at Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota. Similarly, the 741st Strategic Missile Squadron, 91st Strategic Missile Wing, at Minot AFB, North Dakota, placed the first Minuteman III on alert on 19 August 1970. The Minuteman III represented a most significant addition to the alert force because each missile carried up to three Multiple Independently Retargetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs).


MISSILE MAINTENANCE TECHNICIANS PREPARE A MINUTEMAN II FOR A TEST LAUNCH AT VANDENBERG AFB, CALIFORNIA

There were other positive developments as well. The Airborne Launch Control System, developed to provide SAC with the ability to launch land-based Minuteman missiles from the airborne command post, became a reality. SAC tested the system on 17 April 1967 by launching a Minuteman II from Vandenberg AFB, California. The successful result enabled the Airborne Launch Control System (ALCS) to attain initial operational capability on 31 May.


AIRBORNE LAUNCH CONTROL OFFICERS ON THE “LOOKING GLASS” PREPARE TO INITIATE AN ICBM TEST LAUNCH USING THE ALCS

The first Emergency Rocket Communications System (ERCS) became operational on 10 October 1967 when technicians installed the system on a Minuteman II missile at Whiteman AFB, Missouri. ERCS vastly improved SAC's ability to transmit command control messages to its forces. The new system also made the Blue Scout Junior rocket system obsolete and on 1 December 1967 SAC inactivated the three Blue Scout sites in Nebraska.

In 1968, SAC revived the B-47 dispersal program it had used successfully during the Cuban missile emergency and applied it to the command's B-52s and KC-135s. This program scattered SAC aircraft over a large number of bases (both military installations and civilian airfields) during periods of increased tension or international emergency. Dispersal complicated an enemy's targeting problem and allowed more aircraft to become airborne within a given time period.

The deployment of Soviet submarine launched ballistic missiles forced SAC to develop a satellite basing program similar to the B-52 dispersal tactics it used ten years earlier. SAC began testing a satellite basing plan on 20 February 1969. The test relocated B-52s and KC-135s assigned to the 72d Bombardment Wing, Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico, to Homestead AFB, Florida, where the aircraft were placed on ground alert. Testing ended successfully on 20 May and SAC added several additional bases to the plan in July. Satellite basing, like dispersal, increased the number of targets and reduced the alert force launch time.


AN FB-111A WITH AN EXTERNAL LOAD OF SHORT RANGE ATTACK MISSILES

SAC's bomber force gained strength with the deployment of the FB-111 bomber in 1969 despite the retirement of the B-58 the next year. The FB-111 began alert duty on 1 July 1971 with the 509th Bombardment Wing at Pease AFB, New Hampshire. SAC's Short Range Attack Missile (SRAM) reinforced the bomber's lethal punch when it went on alert 15 September 1972 with the 42d Bombardment Wing at Loring AFB, Maine.

Strategic Air Command also consolidated and reorganized the Post Attack Command Control System on 1 April 1970. The EC-135s moved out of Westover, Barksdale, and March Air Force Bases. All were assigned to the 2d, 3d, and 4th Airborne Command and Control Squadrons which were activated at Offutt, Grissom, and Ellsworth Air Force Bases. The reorganization met administrative needs and did not alter the basic PACCS function.


AN EC-135 AIRBORNE COMMAND POST HEADING OUT ON A LOOKING GLASS MISSION

Shortly after the Southeast Asian War concluded, Strategic Air Command was pressed into action again on behalf of national policy as tensions in the Middle East erupted into open conflict. Egyptian forces successfully crossed the Suez canal in October 1973 and attacked Israeli forces in the Sinai desert. An Israeli airborne counterattack into Egypt saved the day for Israel, but soon raised the specter of a serious escalation in the conflict. The United States, which was assisting Israel with logistical support, wanted to avoid escalation and prevent a superpower confrontation. Upon direction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, SAC generated its forces to a higher readiness posture in support of U.S. interests. The command stood ready from 24 to 25 October 1973 whereupon it was able to stand down, having once again fulfilled its mission without combat.

A new responsibility came to Strategic Air Command on 1 November 1975 when Headquarters USAF transferred the 1st Airborne Command and Control Squadron from Headquarters Command to SAC. The 1st ACCS moved from Andrews AFB, Maryland, to Offutt AFB, bringing with it the unit's four E-4 aircraft. Three of these modified Boeing 747s were outfitted with EC-135 type communications equipment and served as the President's National Emergency Airborne Command Posts. The fourth aircraft, an E-4B model, was at the Boeing plant in Seattle, Washington, being outfitted with advanced communications equipment. The three E-4A models continued to perform alert duty at Andrews AFB and on 22 May 1980 the E-4B served its first alert tour. All E-4As were eventually modified to the E-4B configuration, the last aircraft being completed on 30 January 1985.


AN E-4B NATIONAL EMERGENCY AIRBORNE COMMAND POST


INTERIOR DIAGRAM OF AN EMERGENCY AIRBORNE COMMAND POST

In an unrelated action, SAC again reorganized the Post Attack Command Control System to consolidate resources. On 31 December 1975 the 3d Airborne Command and Control Squadron at Grissom AFB, Indiana, was inactivated. The 70th Air Refueling Squadron and the 2d Airborne Command and Control Squadron at Offutt AFB assumed the unit's functions.


A KC-135 REFUELS A 1ST ACCS E-4B


MAJ GEN EARL G. PECK SERVED AS THE AEAO ON THE FIRST OPERATIONAL E-4B MISSION, 4 MARCH 1980


A KC-135 REFUELS AN E-4A

From 8 to 16 July 1979, Strategic Air Command conducted Global Shield 79, one of the most comprehensive nuclear war plan exercises ever conducted in SAC history. For the first time, the command exercised every phase of its role in the Single Integrated Operational Plan short of nuclear warfare. Command units generated hundreds of bombers, tankers, and missiles to alert status. Aircraft and ground support teams dispersed to preselected bases and flew sorties over radar bomb-scoring sites. General Richard H. Ellis, the CINCSAC, called the exercise "an extremely valuable training experience for the aircrews, missile crews, and support personnel who participated in it." Global Shield became a regular command exercise which grew in scope and intensity throughout the 1980s.


A SAC SECURITY POLICEMAN GUARDS A PACCS AIRCRAFT DISPERSED TO MALMSTROM AFB, MONTANA DURING GLOBAL SHIELD 83


B-52 CREWS CONDUCT A MINIMUM INTERVAL TAKEOFF (MITO) AT FAIRCHILD AFB, WASHINGTON DURING A GLOBAL SHIELD EXERCISE


A B-52 CREW FROM THE 410TH BMW, K.I. SAWYER AFB, MICHIGAN SCRAMBLE TO THEIR BOMBER DURING A GLOBAL SHIELD 83 EXERCISE


A B-52H WITH AN INTERNAL LOAD OF SRAM MISSILES

The Strategic Modernization Program introduced in the 1980s significantly improved SAC's war-fighting abilities. Among the improvements were the Air Launched Cruise Missile, which entered service on 16 December 1982 when the 416th Bombardment Wing at Griffiss AFB, New York, placed the first ALCM on alert. The landmark year for the Strategic Modernization Program came in 1986. On 1 October of that year, the 96th Bombardment Wing at Dyess AFB, Texas, hosted the first B-1B alert line. Nine days later, the 90th Strategic Missile Wing placed the first of SAC's ten-warhead Peacekeeper missiles on alert at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming. The B-1B represented SAC's first new bomber in seventeen years. Similarly, the Peacekeeper was the command's first new ICBM since the deployment of the Minuteman III in 1970.


A SAC MISSILE CREW PREPARES FOR MISSILE FLIGHT TEST 12 AT PEACEKEEPER LAUNCH CONTROL FACILITY 01E, VANDENBERG AFB, CALIFORNIA


A 7TH MMS MUNITIONS TEAM LOADS ALCM MISSILES ON A B-52H. AT CARSWELL AFB, TEXAS, 10 DECEMBER 1986


AERIAL VIEW OF PEACEKEEPER LAUNCH FACILITY 08, VANDENBERG AFB, CALIFORNIA


PEACEKEEPER FLIGHT TEST 10, VANDENBERG AFB, CALIFORNIA


A B-1B BOMBER


MUNITIONS SPECIALIST LOADING TRAINING MUNITIONS ON A B-1B


A B-1B WITH WINGS SWEPT BACK IN FLIGHT


A B-1B WITH WINGS FORWARD IN FLIGHT

Construction of a new command post complemented the modernization of SAC's strategic forces. The existing facility, opened in 1957, had become crowded, technologically obsolete, and poorly suited to manage modern weapon systems. General Bennie L. Davis, the CINCSAC, approved a plan in August 1982 to completely renovate the existing facility, an endeavor he characterized as his legacy to the command. After exploring funding and construction alternatives, General Davis opted instead to build an entirely new underground complex adjacent to the existing one. The SAC Command Center became operational in March 1989. The two-level structure provided 14,000 square feet in which SAC housed the critical information management and communication systems that assured the CINCSAC's ability to command and control his forces worldwide. Its state-of-the-art computers and communications equipment, which included telephone, satellite and radio networks, were protected against damage by electromagnetic pulse from high altitude nuclear bursts. The new facility was also connected to warning systems that detected ICBM and SLBM attacks. Computer consoles at each staff position and eight computer-driven wall screens immediately informed the battle staff of any changes in force status.


SAC COMMAND CENTER UNDER CONSTRUCTION, 1988


THE SAC COMMAND CENTER, 1989


GENERAL JOHN T. CHAIN HOSTS PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH IN THE SAC COMMAND CENTER, 8 FEBRUARY 1990

Although Strategic Air Command had experienced remarkable improvements in weapons and technology through the years, the backbone of deterrence remained the SAC alert force — aircrews, missile crews, logistics specialists, security police, and the support staff who made the operation work. Their dedication and vigilance contributed fundamentally to the preservation of freedom for the American people and the Western alliance. The crews that pulled daily alert, whether on the ground, in the air, or in buried missile launch control centers, as well as those who supported them, formed the cornerstone of America's deterrent strength. The importance, prestige, and commitment of the SAC alert force were among the reasons which led General John T. Chain, Jr., the SAC Commander in Chief, to declare 1988 "The Year of the SAC Alert Force."


THE YEAR OF THE ALERT FORCE EMBLEM

THE WHITE HOUSE
WASHINGTON

October 9, 1987

To the Men and Women of the Strategic Air Command:

In October 1957, aircrews of the Strategic Air Command went on alert for the first time. From that historic day forward, SAC's demonstrated readiness has been a cornerstone of peace and security for the free world. Today, strategic deterrence is still the foundation on which rest the peace of the world and the protection of freedom.

We look with pride on SAC's 30-year alert history. The men and women of SAC mastered the growing challenge of deterrence presented by the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, by burgeoning technology, and by an expanding Soviet threat. You who serve in SAC today share with your predecessors a noble tradition of dedication to the unrelenting demands of constant watchfulness, instantaneous readiness, and unyielding professionalism.

On this, the 30th anniversary of SAC's first alert, I extend to every member of the Strategic Air Command family the appreciation of a grateful nation, along with my personal congratulations on a job well done.

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN HONORS THE SAC ALERT FORCE


GENERAL JOHN T. CHAIN, THE FIRST CINCSAC TO PERFORM MISSILE ALERT, MALMSTROM AFB, MONTANA, 26 SEPTEMBER 1986

Ironically, the world in which SAC celebrated the Year of the Alert Force differed significantly from the one which had led to the creation of an alert program. Better communication and cooperation between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. had produced several nuclear arms reduction treaties and greatly reduced superpower tensions. Technological innovation had improved intelligence assessment and warning against strategic attack. "The chances of a bolt-out-of-the-blue kind of attack these days is virtually gone," observed one SAC spokesman. By 1989, the greatest threat confronting the Soviet Union was not Western military power but the collapse of the Soviet economy. With their economy in shambles, Soviet leaders had begun to institute democratic reforms at home, release their grip on Eastern Europe, and look to the West for economic and technical assistance, Economics was also a major concern in the United States. The national debt was increasing at an alarming rate and cost reduction had become a major defense activity. These circumstances led General Chain to propose an end to continuous airborne command post operations in late 1989. Defense leaders instantly rejected his suggestion, believing it would send the wrong signal to the Soviets at a moment when democracy in Eastern Europe stood at a critical juncture.

In November 1989, the world finally witnessed the destruction of the Berlin Wall. This milestone marked the start of a phenomenally rapid series of events that would fundamentally alter international relations and the strategic posture of the United States. Within eight months, the U.S.S.R. had begun to withdraw its forces from Eastern Europe, laying the foundation for the November 1990 Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe between the United States and the Soviet Union which limited conventional weapons and weapon systems in the European theater, widely heralded as marking the end of the Cold War.

With the threat of attack diminishing, confidence in attack warning and detection increasing, and pressure to reduce operating expenses growing, new life was breathed into General Chain's airborne command post proposal. The Secretary of Defense reexamined the issue and, with the concurrence of the President, accepted SAC's recommendation. Casey One, the CINCSAC's EC-135 aircraft, took off from Offutt AFB, Nebraska, at 6:59 AM on 24 July 1990 with General Chain on board as the Airborne Emergency Action Officer. When the aircraft landed at 2:28 PM, almost thirty years of continuous airborne command post operations and over 250 million hours of accident-free flying came to an end. The new alert plan which went into effect did not alter the role or mission of the Looking Glass and included airborne and ground alert postures. EC-135s continued to fly random sorties each week, but quick reaction ground alert constituted the bulk of daily Looking Glass operations.


GENERAL JOHN T. CHAIN PERFORMS DUTY AS THE AIRBORNE EMERGENCY ACTION OFFICER ON THE LOOKING GLASS (Big Image)

These changes foreshadowed others that would radically alter alert operations. The breathtaking transformation of the communist world continued without abatement. By mid-1991, the Soviet Union had largely completed its withdrawal of forces from Eastern Europe and on 1 July 1991 it announced the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. Thirty days later, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev and President George Bush signed a Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (START) that limited nuclear warheads and strategic delivery systems. Hardline Communist Party officials, discontented with the radical changes, attempted a coup in August. Their objective was to overthrow Gorbachev and the reform movement, end the disintegration of the U.S.S.R. into independent republics, and restore the central authority of the Party. The poorly organized coup collapsed quickly. Its legacy was to strengthen the democratic forces, emasculate the Communist Party, and accelerate the reform movement. On 6 September 1991, the Soviet Union recognized the independence of the Baltic Republics. With gold reserves nearly exhausted and their economy in ruins, Soviet leaders desperately appealed to the United States and its allies for economic assistance.

President George Bush interpreted the unsuccessful coup as a firm sign that democracy had taken hold in the Soviet Union and that a fundamental shift in superpower relations was in order. He addressed the nation on the evening of Friday, 1 7 September 1991. "The prospect of Soviet invasion into Western Europe launched with little or no warning," he informed the country, "is no longer a realistic threat." He expressed his desire to move away from global confrontation, shrink the nuclear arsenal, and rely on defensive measures to increase stability and reduce the risk of war. At the same time, he wanted to give the Soviets an incentive to shift their collapsing economy from building defenses to building democracy. He then announced major changes in the nation's strategic posture. "First," he stated, "to further reduce tensions, I'm directing that all United States strategic bombers immediately stand down from their alert posture." All intercontinental ballistic missiles scheduled for deactivation under START (i.e. Minuteman lIs) were also to be brought off alert immediately. Substantial changes in the nation's tactical nuclear arsenal were ordered and several major programs including Rail Garrison Peacekeeper and the mobile portion of the small ICBM were canceled. President Bush also indicated he would simplify strategic command and control by establishing a new strategic command, the United States Strategic Command.


A 2D WING SECURITY GUARD STANDS WATCH AS A B-52 IS REMOVED FROM ALERT


AIR-LAUNCHED CRUISE MISSILES BEING TOWED TO STORAGE AREA

The Secretary of Defense signed an execution order the next morning directing Strategic Air Command to implement the actions ordered by the President. Maintenance crews at twelve SAC bases began removing ALCMs and gravity bombs from the approximately 40 B-52 and B-1 bombers that were kept on day-to-day alert (the FB-111As had already come off alert and been retired in June 1991). Launch Control Center crews removed launch enable control panels and codes to preclude launch orders from being transmitted to the 450 Minuteman II missiles. As each weapon was taken off alert, SAC's wing commanders reported the action to the SAC Command Center where General George L. Butler, the CINCSAC, monitored their progress. At 2:59 PM, he received notification that all bombers and Minuteman IIs were off alert.


GENERAL GEORGE L. BUTLER MONITORS THE ALERT FORCE STAND DOWN

General Butler called his wing and unit commanders from the SAC Command Center immediately upon completion of the stand down. He first told them:

. . . what an enormously exhilarating and gratifying moment this is for me as the CINCSAC, and by extension, the entire command. It is clearly one of the singular events of our time that as I sit here in my command center I see all of SAC's bomber forces off alert."

He saluted the men and women of the Minuteman II force and characterized the occasion as "a sweeping tribute to 45 years of unparalleled devotion" that allowed the nation to begin its climb "back down the ladder of nuclear confrontation." "In the meanwhile," he concluded,

rest secure in the knowledge that for the first time in over 40 years we can truly promise our children and our grandchildren a world drained from the tension of superpower confrontation. God bless you all for what you have accomplished. CINCSAC out.


A BATTLE STAFF CONTROLLER MONITORS THE ICBM STAND DOWN AT THE 341ST SMW, MALMSTROM AFB, MONTANA

Over the next two days, missile maintenance crews visited each of the 450 launch facilities and installed safety control switches that prevented the missiles from being launched. With the turn of a key at the Alpha 9 missile silo near Stockett, Montana, the last Minuteman II was made safe on 20 September 1991. This event was especially symbolic since Alpha 9 was where the first Minuteman was placed on alert in 1962, an act President Kennedy called his "ace in the hole" because it made a critical difference in his negotiations with Premier Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After the stand down, SAC maintained 450 Minuteman III and 50 Peacekeeper ICBMs on alert and was capable of generating the bomber force within 24 hours.

The dramatic events that were reshaping alert operations were also causing Strategic Air Command to develop new doctrine. SAC was the child of the nuclear age and for forty years its mission had been almost exclusively nuclear deterrence. Yet, the command also had a conventional mission and that role garnered increasing attention throughout the 1980s. As the Cold War drew to a conclusion, CINCSACs turned their attention to preparing Strategic Air Command for a more prominent place in the conventional warfare arena. Under General Butler this role was defined as the TWIN TRIAD. The first triad, embodied in the overlapping and mutually reinforcing capabilities of bombers, ICBMs, and Navy SLBM forces, accomplished the command's traditional nuclear deterrence mission. The second or non-nuclear triad emphasized SAC's conventional warfighting capabilities as represented by its bombers, tankers, and battle management forces.


THE TWIN TRIAD CONCEPT

A major reorganization on 1 September 1991 restructured SAC's combat forces along functional lines to meet the operational and force management requirements of the twin triad. Second Air Force was reactivated and assigned responsibility for SAC's reconnaissance and battle management assets. Twentieth Air Force was reactivated to manage the command's ICBM force. Finally, SAC's two existing air forces began a gradual transition that would eventually place functional control of bomber operations under Eighth Air Force and tanker operations under Fifteenth Air Force.

SAC's internal reorganization occurred amid a fundamental reorientation of Air Force structure and doctrine. The same forces which altered alert operations were also redefining defense force structure. Simultaneously, modern warfare and new airpower doctrine were blurring the distinction between strategic and tactical weapons and platforms. As the 1991 air campaign against Iraq demonstrated, force structure had to focus on weapon employment rather than weapon system. To this end, Air Force leaders reevaluated their service organization and in September 1991 announced a major restructuring. The three major operational commands — SAC, TAC, and MAC — would inactivate and two new commands would activate. One, the Air Mobility Command, would focus on Global Reach through management of most airlift and air refueling assets. The other, Air Combat Command, would be dedicated to Global Power through the application of bomber, fighter, battle management, defense suppression and some air refueling resources. This new command will also have peacetime responsibility for organizing, training, and equipping the ICBM force.

In President Bush's 17 September address, he announced the creation of a new command, designated United States Strategic Command, to simplify command and control of strategic nuclear weapons. STRATCOM would be activated in June 1992 at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, and occupy the same building that housed SAC and the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff. As a unified command comprised of members from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, STRATCOM would report directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and exercise operational control over all of the nation's strategic nuclear offensive alert systems, both Air Force and Navy. General George L. Butler, the thirteenth and last CINCSAC, was selected by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and forwarded to the President as the nominee to be the first Commander in Chief of U.S. Strategic Command.

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APPENDIX I

HEADQUARTERS STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND
Office of the Commander in Chief
Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska

9 November 1957

MEMORANDUM TO: Each Member of the SAC Alert Force

As a member of SAC's Alert Force, you are contributing to an operation which is of the utmost importance to the security and welfare of this nation and its allies in the free world. The purpose of this memorandum is to discuss with you some aspects of this operation and the importance of your part in it. For you must fully understand the reasons for the establishment of the Alert Force in order to believe in what you are doing and, consequently, do it with all your heart and to the best of your ability.

When SAC was organized, less than twelve years ago, its long-range bombers and stores of atom bombs were unmatched throughout the world and, therefore, represented an effective deterrent to aggression. Initiation of hostile action against this country would have been the signal to launch SAC's strike forces for the counterattack within a few days, and little could have prevented these forces from inflicting unacceptable damage upon any aggressor.

But while SAC's basic mission has not changed, there have been radical changes in the factors which affect the manner in which we must accomplish that mission. We no longer have a monopoly in nuclear weapons and long-range bombers. Many of the rapid advances in military technology which are reflected in our weapon systems are also utilized by the Soviets, permitting them to attack us with greater speed, firepower, and accuracy. Our own strike forces are no longer immune to destruction before they can be launched, and continuous improvements in the Soviet's aerial defenses make successful counterattacks more difficult.

None of these problems is insurmountable but we must devote a great deal of effort and talent toward their solution. I am confident that we can cope with them because SAC is not based on any particular weapon system but on an organization of experienced men like you, flexible enough to be readily adaptable to any new weapon system or technique, no matter how revolutionary. This applies, in particular, to the problems posed by the limitations of warning time.

As most of you know, we deal with two types of warning-"Strategic Warning" and "Tactical Warning." Strategic Warning is defined as that kind of long-range warning which gives the field commander enough time to move into fighting position and configuration. Tactical Warning means there is so little advance warning of an impending attack that the commander must fight from his present position and configuration.

We received a form of strategic warning of communist aggression as early as 1848 when Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published the "Communist Manifesto." Ever since, all the top men of the communist hierarchy-from Lenin and Stalin to Khrushchev-have made it clear that the ultimate goal of communism is the liquidation of the capitalist countries and, primarily, of the United States.

As for the Tactical Warning, we can expect the Soviets to use the oldest and most successful military stratagem-surprise, because they surely would want to exploit our weaknesses, not our strengths. Therefore, we cannot count on any warning of overt hostile action against this country until after such action has been initiated. This would give us only a few hours to launch SAC's strike forces for the counterattack. And, once ballistic missiles become operational, the tactical warning period would shrink further to a mere fraction of an hour.

It stands to reason that the brunt of the initial attack would be directed against SAC because the Soviets know only too well that the price they would have to pay for aggression would be unacceptable to them unless they succeed in preventing SAC's strike forces from being launched. We can gain a certain degree of protection against overt and covert actions, designed to immobilize our forces, by appropriate means to deal with sabotage attempts, by a limited amount of base hardening, by dispersal, and by similar defensive measures. However, the only way of insuring the survival of some of SAC's combat capability, even in case of the most unexpected and massive attack, is our Alert Force.

As long as the Soviets know that, no matter what means they may employ to stop it, a sizeable percentage of SAC's strike force will be in the air for the counterattack within minutes after they have initiated aggression, they will think twice before undertaking such aggression. For this reason, it is my considered opinion that a combat-ready Alert Force of adequate size is the very backbone of our deterrent posture.

To achieve our goal of maintaining as much as one-third of our strike forces on continuous alert will not be easy, but it can and must be done. I realize that this will entail personal inconvenience and sacrifices to you and your families. But you can be sure that I will do everything possible to ease this aspect of your alert duties. The success of this system depends on you, and I count on you to insure that the Alert Force will always be ready to achieve its vital objectives.

/s/
THOMAS S. POWER
General, USAF
Commander in Chief

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APPENDIX II
GENERAL JOHN T. CHAIN'S YEAR OF THE ALERT FORCE
MESSAGE TO THE COMMAND

301400Z Sep 87

CINCSAC OFFUTT AFB NE

AIG 740

AIG 9470

SUBJECT: 1988, The Year of SAC Alert

1. Strategic Air Command personnel have fought their war of deterrence every day for over 30 years. Bomber and tanker crews first began SAC ground alert on 1 Oct 57. Those initial alert crews and support personnel formed the cornerstone of America's deterrence-SAC alert. The men and women of our aircrews, missile crews, and all the SAC people who support them should never forget that it is their vigilance and dedication which allow Americans to live in freedom in this great nation. For those reasons, I've declared 1988 "The Year of the SAC Alert Force."

2. The goals of our program are to reaffirm the importance, enhance the prestige, and upgrade the environment of SAC alert. To aid in this effort, I've established a Headquarters SAC working group to gather, develop, and expedite good ideas. We are already working a number of projects which include: upgrading alert facilities, simplifying the SIOP, flying on alert, streamlining procedures, improving intelligence support, revitalizing the public affairs campaign, and examining unit awards programs.

3. I encourage all of you to build the best possible unit programs and implement local initiatives that support "The Year of the SAC Alert Force" program. I also want to share your good ideas with others across the command. Therefore, the numbered air forces and 1st STRAD should catalogue the new ideas and initiatives their units plan for 1988 and forward them to this headquarters by 1 Dec 87. Direct your inputs to my POC, Capt Chip Beck, HQ SAC/XOKM, AUTOVON 271-4464.

4. SAC alert is the foundation of our mission--and of our nation's defense. The people of this country have entrusted us with providing the deterrent shield that safeguards American liberty. Everyone in SAC shares that responsibility. With your help, we'll achieve our goals and improve the way we carry out our mission. I look forward to working with you as we celebrate the year of SAC alert.

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APPENDIX III

HQ SAC COMMAND CENTER

GENERAL GEORGE L. BUTLER:
TEXT OF REMARKS TO SAC WING AND UNIT COMMANDERS UPON STAND DOWN OF BOMBER AND MINUTEMAN II ALERT
28 SEPTEMBER 1991

This is General Butler. I thought it would be appropriate if I had the opportunity to say to all of your units through you as their leaders and principle spokesmen what an enormously exhilarating and gratifying moment this is for me as the CINCSAC, and by extension, the entire command. It is clearly one of the singular events of our time that as I sit here in my command center I see all of SAC's bomber forces off alert.

I was in Washington, D.C., last night when the President made his historic address, and as I listened to his words, I was filled with a sense of pride and fulfillment. His words and the initiatives they conveyed were made possible in every sense by the thousands of men and women past and present who have manned the quiet ramparts of nuclear deterrence. This includes a multitude of professionals from virtually every service and across a wide spectrum of specialties and expertise.

Today we especially salute the men and women of the Minuteman II force. Their contribution to this mission has now been achieved and they can stand down from alert with enormous pride and the gratitude of the entire nation, indeed of the entire world.

This is a great day for SAC. It's a sweeping tribute to 45 years of unparalleled devotion along with our brothers in the SLBM force. We can sit quietly and reflect on the wondrous news that we've begun to climb back down the ladder of nuclear confrontation.

My congratulations to all of you. You have made this possible, and most importantly, we can truly say that the world is becoming a safer place. With that in mind I know that you will have a multitude of questions with respect to how we proceed. That guidance will be forthcoming shortly.

The most important thing that you have to do right now is to convey to your people in a very positive way what this represents. The fact that we are able to take bombers and tankers off alert for the first time in 34 years, that we can take those Minuteman II missiles down with full confidence, that we created an era where nuclear deterrence can be preserved at lower force levels. We can proceed in a measured way with the rest of the President's agenda.

Tell your folks that this is a very exciting event for those of us here in headquarters as we gather and watch the numbers of alert aircraft and Minuteman II missiles come down off the boards. That we are working diligently with guidance from Washington on where we go from here. We will have more specific instructions out with regard to the continued contributions of the Minuteman II crews as we work through this period.

So from me to all of you, my deepest thanks, my admiration, my appreciation. Come back to us with your individual questions, but recognize that we will be getting out to you with very broad guidance in the very near future.

In the meantime, rest secure in the knowledge that for the first time in over 40 years we can truly promise our children and our grandchildren a world drained from the tension of superpower confrontation. God bless you all for what you have accomplished. CINCSAC out.

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APPENDIX IV
MANPOWER 1946 – 1990

SAC MANNING - OFFICERS, AIRMEN, CIVILIANS
HEADQUARTERS STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND
MISSILE CREWS

STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND
MANNING - OFFICERS, AIRMEN, AND CIVILIANS
1946 - 1990

[Figures as of 31 December]

Year

Officers

Airmen

Civilians

Total

1946

4,319

27,871

4,902

37,092

1947

5,175

39,307

5,107

49,589

1948

5,562

40,038

6,365

51,965

1949

10,050

53,460

7,980

71,490

1950

10,600

66,600

8,273

85,473

1951

19,747

113,224

11,554

144,525

1952

20,282

134,072

11,667

166,021

1953

19,944

138,782

12,156

170,982

1954

23,447

151,466

14,193

189,106

1955

26,180

151,595

18,222

195,997

1956

27,871

169,170

20,238

217,279

1957

29,946

174,030

20,038

224,014

1958

34,112

199,562

25,029

258,703

1959

36,435

199,970

26,204

262,609

1960

37,562

202,507

26,719

266,788

1961

37,555

216,148

26,879

280,582

1962

38,542

217,650

26,531

282,723

1963

36,206

211,482

23,984

271,672

1964

35,035

201,933

22,903

259,871

1965

30,336

164,414

21,931

216,681

1966

26,558

147,197

23,102

196,887

1967

25,745

143,412

22,148

191,305

1968

24,323

124,221

19,956

168,500

1969

23,167

122,828

18,333

164,328

1970

23,244

112,401

18,722

154,367

1971

23,043

118,300

19,732

161,075

1972

24,040

119,777

18,884

162,701

1973

23,686

121,060

19,008

163,754

1974

22,873

109,778

19,670

152,321

1975

21,788

98,890

20,057

140,375

1976

19,662

91,722

16,175

127,599

1977

18,726

89,440

14,876

123,042

1978

18,177

90,625

13,698

122,500

1979

18,451

86,315

14,201

118,967

1980

18,575

85,401

14,217

118,193

1981

18,708

87,055

13,036

118,799

1982

18,674

89,918

14,105

122,697

1983

17,767

89,267

13,009

120,043

1984

17,165

88,458

12,861

118,484

1985

17,475

88,341

13,160

118,976

1986

17,681

91,111

12,938

121,730

1987

17,453

90,320

12,816

120,679

1988

17,319

88,045

12,179

117,879

1989

16,788

83,418

12,574

112,780

1990

16,688

82,407

12,272

111,367

HEADQUARTERS STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND
1946 – 1990

[Figures as of 31 December

Prior to 1971 data may also include figures from supporting units.]

Year

Officers

Enlisted

Civilians

Total

Auth

Asgd

Auth

Asgd

Auth

Asgd

Auth

Asgd

1946


492


2034


893



1947


202


566


259



1948


171


348


301



1949









1950









1951

440

625

573

788


427


1840

1952

436

652

565

723

430

423

1431

1798

1953

485

558



399

391



1954

550

556

645

693

403

400

1598

1649

1955

575

627

660

690

415

428

1650

1745

1956

623

639

688

718

531

518

1842

1875

1957

749

742

705

719

474

470

1928

1931

1958

884

945

777

774

506

506

2167

2225

1959

954

954

801

809

523

520

2278

2283

1960

1005

1017

765

786

499

488

2269

2291

1961

971

873

1146

1180

497

499

2614

2552

1962

1233

1265

1098

1316

578

558

2909

3139

1963

1463

1307

1434

1409

570

554

3467

3270

1964

1523

1412

1343

1608

583

558

3449

3578

1965

1629

1490

1853

1563

557

533

4021

3586

1966

1697

1590

1958

1914

626

562

4281

4066

1967

1803

1468

1971

1660

521

521

4295

3649

1968

1668

1530

2113

2079

691

637

4472

4246

1969

2104

1575

1813

1833

633

593

4550

4001

1970

1733

1521

2030

2004

632

598

4395

4123

1971

886

888

656

642

430

428

1972

1958

1972

1312

1291

977

954

517

472

2806

2717

1973

1310

1324

968

929

490

448

2768

2701

1974

1310

1324

968

929

490

448

2768

2701

1975

1220

1165

876

791

471

451

2567

2407

1976

907

875

676

600

434

408

2017

1883

1977

897

773

634

589

421

403

1952

1965

1978

1021

967

944

891

492

469

2457

2327

1979

1088

965

1026

939

531

459

2645

2363

1980

1085

1014

1066

999

544

514

2695

2527

1981

1121

1010

1091

1043

558

508

2770

2561

1982

1086

1034

1032

1031

539

509

2657

2574

1983

1043

992

972

965

514

488

2529

2445

1984

996

963

807

895

497

469

2300

2327

1985

1041

1018

877

866

488

479

2406

2383

1986

1047

1033

895

921

493

471

2435

2425

1987

1030

1027

899

895

508

479

2437

2401

1988

919

787

942

866

554

486

2415

2139

1989

922

727

917

834

549

500

2388

2061

1990

895

876

792

792

535

507

2222

2175

MISSILE CREW MANNING
1961 – 1990

[Figures as of 31 December]

Year

Authorized

Formed

1961

155

150

1962

747

654

1963

1169

1159

1964

1378

1261

1965

781

767

1966

872

834

1967

906

838

1968

996

947

1969

1059

1020

1970

1090

1036

1971

1109

1096

1972

1036

1089

1973

1162

1144

1974

1200

1188

1975

1185

1194

1976

1185

1100

1977

985

893

1978

885

869

1979

886

863

1980

885

843

1981

884

866

1982

892

863

1983

890

897

1984

782

743

1985

757

714

1986

670

663

1987

630

640

1988

634

627

1989

630

576

1990

614

575

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

APPENDIX V
WEAPON SYSTEM INVENTORIES
1946 - 1990

TACTICAL WEAPON SYSTEMS
BOMBARDMENT AND TANKER AIRCRAFT
BOMBARDMENT AIRCRAFT
TANKER AIRCRAFT
POST ATTACK COMMAND AND CONTROL SYSTEMS
INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC MISSILES
INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC MISSILES BY MODEL

TACTICAL WEAPON SYSTEMS
1946 – 1990

[Figures represent assigned systems as of 31 December]

Year

Fighters

Bombers

Tankers

Recon

PACCS

ICBM

Missiles

Total

1946

85

148


31




264

1947

350

319


35




704

1948

212

556


54




822

1949

161

525

67

80




833

1950

167

520

126

112




925

1951

96

669

208

173




1146

1952

230

857

318

193




1598

1953

235

762

502

282




1781

1954

411

1082

683

410




2586

1955

554

1309

761

448




3072

1956

366

1650

824

574




3414

1957


1655

766

388




2809

1958


1769

962

218




2949

1959


1854

1067

205


6

1

3133

1960


1735

1094

139


12

147

3127

1961


1526

1095

164


63

627

3475

1962


1595

1018

65

5

224

983

3890

1963


1335

895

60

41

631

1085

4047

1964


1111

844

40

47

931

1043

4016

1965


807

642

32

23

880

1007

3391

1966


674

636

40

26

968

1005

3349

1967


669

641

48

17

1036

925

3336

1968


655

632

53

20

1026

757

3143

1969


549

629

55

18

1065

779

3095

1970


501

630

49

28

1039

775

3022

1971


478

622

40

26

1048

770

2984

1972


462

616

42

27

1012

982

3141

1973


491

641

43

29

1027

1397

3628

1974


494

643

54

28

1056

1891

4166

1975


489

642

50

31

1067

2114

4393

1976


487

643

51

31

1152

2074

4438

1977


483

640

50

30

1219

2018

4440

1978


410

640

46

30

1237

1408

3771

1979


408

642

41

30

1227

1396

3744

1980


406

517

38

31

1223

1383

3598

1981


406

523

38

31

1220

1388

3606

1982


362

562

43

30

1206

1620

3823

1983


323

535

49

30

1192

2063

4192

1984


322

543

47

32

1171

2518

4633

1985


321

673

55

31

1161

2580

4821

1986


286

556

59

31

1149

2568

4649

1987


306

550

60

31

1179

2529

4655

1988


411

548

66

31

1201

2638

4895

1989


400

545

68

31

1202

2620

4866

1990


346

530

49

31

1149

2512

4617

BOMBARDMENT AND TANKER AIRCRAFT
1946 – 1990

[Figures represent assigned aircraft as of 31 December]

Year

B-29

B-50

KB-29

B-36

B-47

KC-97

B-52

KC-135

B-58

FB-111

KC-10

B-1

TOTAL

1946

148












148

1947

319












319

1948

486

35


35









556

1949

390

99

67

36









592

1950

286

196

126

38









646

1951

340

219

187

98

12

21







877

1952

417

224

179

154

62

139







1175

1953

110

138

143

185

329

359







1264

1954


78

91

209

795

592







1765

1955



82

205

1086

679

18






2070

1956



74

247

1306

750

97






2474

1957




127

1285

742

243

24





2421

1958




22

1367

780

380

182





2731

1959





1366

745

488

322





2921

1960





1178

689

538

405

19




2826

1961





889

651

571

444

66




2621

1962





880

503

639

515

76




2613

1963





613

306

636

589

86




2230

1964





391

190

626

654

94




1955

1965





114


600

642

93




1449

1966







591

636

83




1310

1967







588

641

81




1310

1968







579

632

76




1287

1969







505

629

41

3



1178

1970







459

630


42



1131

1971







412

622


66



1100

1972







402

616


60



1078

1973







422

641


71



1134

1974







422

643


72



1137

1975







420

625


69



1114

1976







419

584


68



1071

1977







417

547


66



1030

1978







344

512


66



922

1979







343

514


65



922

1980







343

517


63



923

1981







344

517


62

6


929

1982







300

514


62

12


888

1983







262

515


61

20


858

1984







262

515


60

28


865

1985







261

506


60

39


866

1986







233

506


51

50

2

842

1987







260

493


60

57

76

946

1988







258

490


59

58

94

959

1989







248

487


58

58

94

945

1990







222

471


30

59

94

876

BOMBARDMENT AIRCRAFT
1946 – 1990

[Figures are assigned aircraft as of 31 December]

[Aircraft and Missile figures 1973-1990 include SAC aircraft undergoing maintenance and modification work at Air Force Logistics Command facilities.
Prior to 1973, these aircraft were assigned to AFLC rather than SAC.]

Year

B-29

B-50

B-36

B-47

B-52

B-58

FB-111

B-1B

TOTAL

1946

148








148

1947

319








319

1948

486

35

35






556

1949

390

99

36






525

1950

286

196

38






520

1951

340

219

98

12





669

1952

417

224

154

62





857

1953

110

138

185

329





762

1954


78

209

795





1082

1955



205

1086

18




1309

1956



247

1306

97




1650

1957



127

1285

243




1655

1958



22

1367

380




1769

1959




1366

488




1854

1960




1178

538

19



1735

1961




889

571

66



1526

1962




880

639

76



1595

1963




613

636

86



1335

1964




391

626

94



1111

1965




114

600

93



807

1966





591

83



674

1967





588

81



669

1968





579

76



655

1969





505

41

3


549

1970





459


42


501

1971





412


66


478

1972





402


60


462

1973





422


71


493

1974





422


72


494

1975





420


69


489

1976





419


68


487

1977





417


66


483

1978





344


66


410

1979





343


65


408

1980





343


63


406

1981





344


62


406

1982





300


62


362

1983





262


61


323

1984





262


60


322

1985





261


60


321

1986





233


51

2

286

1987





260


60

76

396

1988





258


59

94

411

1989





248


58

94

400

1990





222


30

94

346

TANKER AIRCRAFT
1949 – 1990

[Figures represent assigned aircraft as of 31 December]

Year

KB-29

KC-97

KC-135 (SAC)

KC-135 (ARF)

KC-10

1949

67





1950

126





1951

187

21




1952

179

139




1953

143

359




1954

91

592




1955

82

679




1956

74

750




1957


742

24



1958


780

182



1959


745

322



1960


689

405



1961


651

444



1962


503

515



1963


306

589



1964


190

654



1965



642



1966



636



1967



641



1968



632



1969



629



1970



630



1971



622



1972



616



1973



641



1974



643



1975



625

17


1976



584

59


1977



547

93


1978



512

128


1979



514

128


1980



517

128


1981



517

128

6

1982



514

128

12

1983



515

128

20

1984



515

128

28

1985



506

128

39

1986



506

124

50

1987



493

134

57

1988



490

134

58

1989



487

134

58

1990



471

147

59

POST ATTACK COMMAND CONTROL SYSTEM (PACCS)
1961 – 1990

[Figures represent assigned aircraft as of 31 December]

Year

EB-47

EC-135

E-4

1961




1962

5



1963

26

15


1964

22

25


1965


23


1966


26


1967


17


1968


20


1969


18


1970


28


1971


26


1972


27


1973


29


1974


28


1975


28

3

1976


28

3

1977


27

3

1978


27

3

1979


27

3

1980


27

4

1981


27

4

1982


26

4

1983


26

4

1984


28

4

1985


28

3

1986


28

3

1987


27

4

1988


28

3

1989


28

3

1990


28

3

AIR LAUNCHED MISSILES
1959 – 1990

[Figures represent assigned missiles as of 31 December]

[* Snark was a surface-to-surface intercontinental missile]

Year

Snark*

Quail

Hound Dog

SRAM

ALCM

1959

13


1



1960

30

93

54



1961


397

230



1962


436

547



1963


492

593



1964


477

566



1965


465

542



1966


457

548



1967


448

477



1968


445

312



1969


430

349



1970


430

345



1971


430

340



1972


417

338

227


1973


417

329

651


1974


415

327

1149


1975


355

308

1451


1976


355

288

1431


1977


354

249

1415


1978




1408


1979




1396


1980




1383


1981




1374

14

1982




1332

288

1983




1327

736

1984




1309

1209

1985




1309

1271

1986




1128

1440

1987




1125

1404

1988




1138

1500

1989




1120

1500

1990




1048

1464

INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC MISSILES
1959 – 1990

[Figures represent assigned missiles as of 31 December]

[* Thor was an intermediate range ballistic missile]

Year

Thor*

Atlas

Titan

Minuteman

Peacekeeper

1959

13

6




1960

30

12




1961


62

1



1962


142

62

20


1963


140

119

372


1964


118

115

698


1965



59

821


1966



60

908


1967



63

973


1968



59

967


1969



60

1005


1970



57

982


1971



58

990


1972



57

955


1973



57

970


1974



57

999


1975



57

1010


1976



58

1094


1977



57

1162


1978



57

1180


1979



57

1170


1980



56

1167


1981



56

1164


1982



53

1153


1983



43

1149


1984



31

1140


1985



21

1140


1986



9

1140


1987




1151

28

1988




1152

49

1989




1152

50

1990




1099

50

INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC MISSILES BY MODEL
1959 – 1990

[Figures represent assigned missiles as of 31 December]

Year

Atlas D

Atlas E

Atlas F

Titan I

Titan II

Minuteman A

Minuteman B

Minuteman F

Minuteman G

Peacekeeper

1959

6










1960

12










1961

30

32

1

1







1962

30

32

80

62


20





1963

28

33

79

63

56

151

221




1964

13

30

75

56

59

142

556




1965





59

138

663

20



1966





60

116

616

176



1967





63

77

534

362



1968





59

11

504

452



1969





60


503

502



1970





57


423

507

52


1971





58


333

500

157


1972





57


191

485

279


1973





57


100

503

367


1974





57



505

494


1975





57



452

558


1976





58



494

600


1977





57



474

688


1978





57



502

678


1979





57



492

678


1980





56



491

676


1981





56



492

672


1982





53



490

663


1983





43



485

664


1984





31



486

654


1985





21



486

654


1986





9



486

654


1987








489

662

28

1988








489

663

49

1989








489

663

50

1990








489

610

50

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

APPENDIX VI
ALERT RATES
1946 - 1990

BOMBER ALERT RATES
AIRBORNE ALERT RATES
ICBM ALERT RATES

BOMBER ALERT RATES
1958 – 1990

[Figures as of 31 December]

YEAR

REQUIRED ALERT

ACTUAL ALERT

1958


233

1959


327

1960


428

1961


519

1962


625

1963


551

1964


464

1965

340

314

1966

352

301

1967

248

223

1968

202

166

1969

190

100

1970

156

89

1971

156

112

1972

174

49

1973

170

126

1974

125

106

1975

107

107

1976

103

103

1977

103

97

1978

101

101

1979

101

101

1980

101

101

1981

101

101

1982

89

89

1983

76

76

1984

75

75

1985

74

74

1986

74

76

1987

69

69

1988

63

63

1989

65

64

1990

53

53

AIRBORNE ALERT RATES
1 FEBRUARY 1958 - 31 DECEMBER 1990

[Figures represent actual aircraft on alert as of 31 December]


B-36

B-52

PACCS

TOTAL

1 Feb 1958

1



1

1958




0

1959


11


11

1960


6

13

6

1961


10

1

11

1962


12

1

13

1963


11

1

12

1964


9

1

10

1965


12

1

13

1966


3

1

4

1967


4

1

5

1968



1

1

1969



1

1

1970



1

1

1971



1

1

1972



1

1

1973



1

1

1974



1

1

1975



1

1

1976



1

1

1977



1

1

1978



1

1

1979



1

1

1980



1

1

1981



1

1

1982



1

1

1983



1

1

1984



1

1

1985



1

1

1986



1

1

1987



1

1

1988



1

1

1989



1

1

1990



0

0

ICBM ALERT RATES
30 OCTOBER 1959 - 31 DECEMBER 1990

[Figures represent actual ICBMs on alert as of 31 December]

Year

Atlas

Titan

Minuteman

Peacekeeper

ERCS

Total

30 Oct 59

1





1

1959






0

1960

5





5

1961

26





26

1962

5

48




143

1963

68

82

276



426

1964

90

96

678



864

1965


47

782



829

1966


50

837



887

1967


56

899



955

1968


55

923



978

1969


55

975



1030

1970


53

936



989

1971


54

937



991

1972


54

900



954

1973


54

911



965

1974


55

975



988

1975


54

931



985

1976


54

917



971

1977


53

921



974

1978


50

910



960

1979


52

957



1009

1980


50

976


8

1034

1981


51

978


10

1039

1982


49

971


10

1030

1983


39

975


9

1023

1984


30

977


10

1017

1985


18

946


10

974

1986


5

948

9

10

958

1987



916

16

10

942

1988



899

42

10

951

1989



898

49

10

957

1990



901

50

10

961