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AFGSC history office unveils new facility

  • Published
  • By Joe K. Thomas
  • Air Force Global Strike Command
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Air Force Global Strike’s Office of the Command Historian held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Global Strike Research Facility, May 18, at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. The new facility improves archival storage, research capabilities and other forms of support the history office provides to the command.

AFGSC senior leadership, distinguished guests and command staff attended the ceremony, which was part of a three-day event to celebrate Strategic Air Command’s 70th anniversary. However, the occasion was more focused on the way ahead rather than posterity, according to AFGSC Command Historian Yancy Mailes.

“We’re in the forever business,” Mailes said. “We keep the past and record the present, but we also keep an eye on the future. This facility is not only for our grandchildren, but for our grandchildren’s grandchildren. It will maintain our command’s heritage for generations to come.”   

Dedicated to John Bohn, SAC’s longest serving command historian, the facility will serve as the primary storehouse of historical information for AFGSC and its predecessor command. After the keynote address and dedication, attendees received a glimpse of the new facility as they toured past archives, new office spaces and 3-D displays.

“We realized that people were just as hungry for heritage as they were history, so we began creating programs to accommodate those needs,” Mailes said. “In the near future, customers will be able to check out desktop models, Air Force art reproductions, and what we like to call ‘heritage boxes’ for headquarters events. Over the course of six years, the archive has grown by 40 percent and the amount of requests for information has skyrocketed.”

The tour marked what command personnel could expect in terms of history office support — rows of shelves replete with documents, video footage and other forms of media. Expanded work areas also allow the staff to better support AFGSC’s specific information needs.

“In the early days of the command, as we rebuilt the SAC and numbered air forces archives, we began pushing information with a desired outcome to assist the leadership decision loop,” Mailes said. “We called this operationalizing the history program.  However, we knew that our future hinged on weaponizing the archive, that vast pile of material that we needed to catalogue. We needed to make this archive, evidence from past decisions, good or bad, quickly available to leadership and action officers who were working critical issues for the command.”

Whereas the nuclear enterprise is formed of a triad of intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine launched ballistic missiles and bombers, the history program has its own triad, according to Mailes.

“We are a program made up of three distinct, but complementary career fields: archivists who run the Global Strike Research Facility, historians who write histories and special studies and curators who manage 3-D artifacts and heritage holdings,” Mailes said. “   Together, the programs mentioned above support what I like to call the [AFGSC] History and Museums Program Triad.”

Carrying on the tradition of John Bohn, the AFGSC Office of the Command Historian is maintaining a history and heritage of all-things deterrence. His legacy combined with AFGSC information requirements moved the Global Strike Research Facility from concept to reality. 

“We have the right people here who were able to make this happen,” Mailes said. “They come from a wide range of archivist backgrounds and knew exactly what to do to make this the academic facility that the command deserves.”