BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
Gen. Anthony Cotton, Commander, Air Force Global Strike Command, announced the establishment of Project Tuskegee, a new partnership with Tuskegee University where Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from the university are exposed to the opportunities available as an AFGSC “Striker.”
“All Airmen stand on the shoulders of the Tuskegee Airmen,” Cotton said. “The Tuskegee Airmen were critical to the success of bomber forces during World War II, proving that we are better when everyone has an opportunity to contribute.”
“My charge is to deliver long-range strike across the globe, and I am always looking for ways to improve our force while embracing our rich history,” Cotton added. “Through this partnership with Tuskegee University, we are honoring the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen and their historical connection to Air Force Global Strike Command.”
AFGSC is responsible for all United States Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles and the future Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, as well as all bomber aircraft, including the B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit, B-52 Stratofortress, and the future B-21 Raider. The command is entering an era of transformation as it begins to transition from legacy systems to more modern weapon systems based on new technologies.
As the command looks to the future, having the best and brightest talent will be necessary to fly, fight, and win.
The Project Tuskegee partnership has three main objectives:
- Expose men and women to the many opportunities within AFGSC, including as an Eighth Air Force aircrew member or Twentieth Air Force Missileer
- Reinforce the historical connection between the Tuskegee Airmen and Air Force Global Strike Command
- Create a culture of unity that welcomes talent from all walks of life to Striker Nation
The 20th century lineage of the Tuskegee Airmen to “protect the bombers” has a direct connection to AFGSC. On March 24, 1945, the 332nd Fighter Group took part in the longest raid of Fifteenth Air Force, the parent unit of the 2nd Bombardment Group (now AFGSC’s 2nd Bomb Wing). While escorting B-17 bombers on a mission to Berlin, Germany, the 332nd Fighter Group encountered German jet fighters, shooting down three of them. For this mission, the 332nd Fighter Group earned a Distinguished Unit Citation.
Tuskegee University recognizes the historical significance of the Tuskegee Airmen who defended and escorted U.S. Army Air Forces bombers and wants students to appreciate the opportunity to build on that legacy as part of AFGSC. In a historic meeting, Cotton met with Dr. Charlotte Morris, Tuskegee University President, to discuss collaboration efforts.
“Tuskegee University continues to foster the legacy of those who broke barriers and changed the course of history,” Morris said. “The unique talent that stems from Tuskegee University adds value to the Air Force and Air Force Global Strike Command, and we are looking forward to a great partnership.”
One of those barrier-breaking pilots, and one of the few surviving Tuskegee Airmen, Lt. Col. James Harvey III, continues to inspire the next generation of aviators. Harvey agrees that the AFGSC and Tuskegee relationship presents an opportunity to build on the legacy of Tuskegee Airmen and connect it to what Strikers are doing both now and in the future. Harvey said this to Tuskegee ROTC students about the partnership:
“The Tuskegee Airmen took advantage of their opportunity and performed when it mattered to bring about positive change,” said Harvey. “The partnership between Air Force Global Strike Command and Tuskegee University is a great opportunity for young people to dream their dream, find their talents, and continue to bring about positive change.”