Air Force General Wants Less ‘Micromanaging’ of Missileers

June 26, 2014, 8:52 a.m.

Achiev­ing bet­ter mor­ale with­in the U.S. Air Force’s nuc­le­ar mis­sileer corps hinges on less mi­cro­man­aging of its mem­bers, says their com­mand­er.

“The best way to pro­duce lead­ers of the fu­ture is to make sure that when they are ju­ni­or you prop­erly edu­cate and train them and you let them make de­cisions,” 20th Air Force head Maj. Gen. Jack Wein­stein told the As­so­ci­ated Press.

The 20th Air Force is in charge of main­tain­ing and op­er­at­ing the U.S. ar­sen­al of roughly 450 in­ter­con­tin­ent­al bal­list­ic mis­siles. The nuc­le­ar mis­sile corps was be­set by a num­ber of scan­dals in the last year that re­vealed wide­spread ex­am-cheat­ing at a base in Montana, al­leg­a­tions of drug pos­ses­sion by some mis­sile con­trol of­ficers, and prob­lems fully ad­her­ing to se­cur­ity reg­u­la­tions while on mis­sile-launch duty.

Wein­stein at­trib­uted some of those prob­lems to young of­ficers hav­ing low mor­ale about their jobs be­cause they did not feel em­powered. “They were be­ing mi­cro­man­aged,” the two-star gen­er­al said.

He noted that the prac­tice of mi­cro­man­age­ment had grown much more ex­cess­ive com­pared to his days when he served as an ICBM launch crew of­ficer.

However, the former head of one-third of the ICBM mis­sile corps, Col. Robert Verch­er, said the ap­proach was im­port­ant for the Air Force’s nuc­le­ar weapons mis­sion.

“You might call it mi­cro­man­age­ment, but I would call it over­sight — prop­er over­sight,” said Verch­er, who is switch­ing to a new job with Stra­tegic Com­mand after be­ing the com­mand­er un­til Tues­day of the 91st Mis­sile Wing at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. “When I hear the word ‘mi­cro­man­age­ment’ I go, ‘It de­pends.’ How much do you want your tax re­turn mi­cro­man­aged by your ac­count­ant? Ex­quis­itely or just kind of haphaz­ardly?”

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