U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs
8/24/2015 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- The
first two hand-selected U.S. Navy Submarine Forces (SUBFOR) nuclear
engineer-qualified submarine officers began serving multi-year tours
with Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) intercontinental ballistic
missile (ICBM) units in March as part of a Navy-Air Force nuclear
officer exchange program.
The recently-implemented program, called Striker Trident, was designed
to promote an expanded view of U.S. Strategic Command's (USSTRATCOM)
strategic deterrence and global strike missions.
U.S. Navy Lt. Randall Hangartner, of the USS Tennessee (SSBN 734), Kings
Bay, Georgia, is on a two-year assignment with USSTRATCOM's Task Force
214, located at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.
"The first officers selected for this program are of the highest caliber
from their respective communities," he said. "I am proud to be counted
Hangartner said he applied for the program because he wanted to challenge himself and operate outside of his comfort zone.
"Submarines and nuclear power have been my life for almost 18 years," he
said. "It is great to work with a different community and learn
something completely different. At the same time, my experiences and
knowledge are still applicable and valuable here at TF-214," he added.
U.S. Navy Lt. Mitchel Normand, who previously served on the USS Alaska
(SSBN 732), stationed at Kings Bay, Georgia, is the other Navy officer
selected for the initial Striker Trident exchange. He is currently
assigned to AFGSC headquarters at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.
Normand said he made Striker Trident his top assignment preference as
soon as he heard about the program because he saw it as a
"I enjoyed the strategic mission while on the USS Alaska and was always
curious about the Air Force contribution," he said. "It is quite an
honor to know that the Navy has this much confidence in me to be one of
the first people in this position."
Normand works in AFGSC's ICBM operations cell and will transfer to the
strategic bomber branch after a year. When his time in the exchange
program is complete, he will have firsthand experience in all three legs
of the nation's nuclear triad.
Like Normand, Hangartner said he will have acquired real-world
experience and professional development in a variety of areas when he
departs TF-214. Since arriving at the command, he has been involved in
several projects at the action officer level, including an ICBM test
launch and various events in direct support of U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen.
Jack Weinstein, TF-214 (also known as 20th Air Force) commander.
By fully immersing officers into the day-to-day operations of different
legs within the nuclear triad, AFGSC and SUBFOR are on the right path to
developing "truly joint" nuclear officers, according to Hangartner.
Both he and Normand said they believe USSTRATCOM, the Navy and Air
Force, and the individuals selected for the program will benefit from
the innovative Striker Trident program.
"We're gaining a unique level of exposure and diverse experience not
previously possible within the different branches of the nuclear
enterprise," Hangartner said.
Normand agreed, adding that "commanders will have much more confidence
in the decision-making abilities of officers when they have gone through
some of the firsthand experiences that Striker Trident officers have.
"I believe that USSTRATCOM will see the benefits in several years when
the officers who are in the program now are eligible for leadership
positions within the command," he said.
Both Hangartner and Normand said their integration into the Air Force's
unique culture and operating environments have been fairly smooth, and
their new units have welcomed them with open arms.
They also described some of the surprises and lessons learned along the way:
"One of the first things I learned about the Air Force is that
traditions and culture have just as much to do with success as rules and
regulations, if not more," Hangartner said. "What surprised me most was
the significant effort being put forth -- through the Force Improvement
Program (FIP) -- to improve the conditions in which missileers
The FIP, which began in 2014, is an aggressive, action-oriented Air
Force effort with the goal of making rapid and substantial changes to
the ICBM mission. The program was designed from the ground up as a
field-level initiative to draw on the experiences of airmen at all
levels by allowing them to provide open and honest feedback to their
leadership through emails and confidential surveys.
Normand said he was surprised by the similarities between the Air Force
and Navy. He specifically noted that, like his peers in the submarine
community, "everyone here is professional, but also has a sense of
"It is great to see just how much detail and attention all the Airmen
give to the weapons and the mission. Just like the Navy, they take pride
in their work," he said.
Normand did, however, point out one distinct difference between ballistic missile submarine and ICBM operations:
"The distance to the missile silos surprised me," he admitted. "Being on
a submarine, we live right next to the weapons; but the men and women
working in the missile field drive many hours just to get to their
workplace every day. It gives me great appreciation for the work they
Being the first participants in the new, high-profile exchange program
has presented unique challenges and opportunities for Normand and
Hangartner; and both said they would recommend the program to their
"Striker Trident has been everything I expected and more," Hangartner
said. "My experience so far has been rich with information and exposure;
and I would encourage any career-oriented officer to apply for this