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?”