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Strategic Air Command

 

Stratcom Command Center

Strategic Air Command
Credits - U.S. Air Force Photo

The Strategic Air Command, with its motto “War is our profession - Peace is our product,” was established in March 1946 at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. Characterized by its bomber force, it symbolized the cornerstone of American national strategic policy—deterrence against the growing nuclear arsenal of the Soviet Union.

 

As its contribution to national deterrence, the U.S. Navy began developing nuclear forces. In the late 1950s, with the advent of the navy's Polaris ballistic missile submarine and the air force's first intercontinental ballistic missile, national leadership recognized the need for a single agency to plan and target all U.S. nuclear forces. As a result, the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff (JSTPS) was established in 1960. Its mission was to produce the nation's strategic nuclear war plan, the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP). The JSTPS was housed with SAC to take full advantage of SAC's existing war-planning expertise, intelligence capability and an extensive communications network. Also, in the meantime, in 1958, the motto of the organization was officially changed to “Peace is our profession.”

 

The combination of the navy's submarine launched ballistic missiles along with the air force's bombers and ICBMs came to be known as the Strategic Nuclear Triad. For almost 40 years, the Triad provided a visible, credible deterrent against Soviet aggression.

 

On June 1, 1992, with the Berlin Wall down, the end of the Warsaw Pact, and the breakup of the Soviet Union, SAC and the JSTPS were abolished. That same day, U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) was established. Its mission of deterrence remained but for the first time in U. S. history, the planning, targeting, and wartime employment of strategic forces came under the control of a single commander while the day-to-day training, equipping and maintenance responsibilities for its forces remained with the air force and navy.

 

As the nuclear arsenals of the United States and former Soviet Union have diminished, STRATCOM is faced with the challenges of countering the spread of weapons of mass destruction, biological, chemical and nuclear. The Triad--submarine-launched ballistic missiles, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and strategic bombers--remains the foundation of STRATCOM's mission of deterrence.