Ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) are the most survivable leg of the Triad. This is because of the submarine's ability to disappear in the ocean's depths and its great mobility. The submarine's Trident missiles provide launch capability from around the globe. SSBNs are constantly on patrol, with each patrol area totaling more than one million square miles. Currently there are 18 SSBNs based between Kings Bay, Ga., and Bangor, Wash., each capable of carrying 24 Trident missiles. These units are organized into Task Forces, each with a unique area of responsibility.
The bomber fleet is a visible, flexible and recallable strategic asset. B-52s, the backbone of America's strategic bomber force for more than 30 years, are based at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., and Minot Air Force Base, N.D. New to the bomber force is the B-2. This stealthy bomber reached its initial operational capability on April 1, 1997 and significantly enhances our deterrent forces. It took over the role of the B-1B which converted to a conventional bomber. The B-2s are assigned to Whiteman AFB, MO.
To ensure constant communication to forces in times of national
emergencies, USStratCom uses various command and control assets. These aircraft
can communicate with any leg of the Triad at anytime. Command and control
aircraft include the Navy E-6B
based at Tinker Air Force Base, OK, as
well as the National
Airborne Operations Center (E-4B) stationed at Offutt Air Force Base. The upgraded E-6B
TACAMO assumed the
Looking Glass mission from the venerable Air Force EC-135, which retired from
service. In addition to these aircraft, the command has a self-sufficient,
ground mobile headquarters that can set up operations anywhere and take over
command and control responsibilities. STRATCOM also maintains a complete underground command
center as its primary command and control node. This center is part of the
National Military Command Center system with the primary NMCC located at the
Pentagon in Washington, D.C.