ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The nation’s nuclear weapons acquisition program, headquartered on Kirtland Air Force Base, swapped leadership this week with a command change ceremony followed by a ceremony for retiring leader Maj. Gen. Scott Jansson.
Jansson has led the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center for the past two years and his retirement ends his 37-year career in the Air Force.
He is being replaced by Maj. Gen. Shaun Morris, who has relocated his family to Albuquerque from Florida.
“Nothing is more important to our nation’s security than our nuclear capability,” said Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, commander of U.S. Air Force Materiel Command, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
She said Jansson helped right the program in its last decade or so of struggle dealing with “aging weapons” and organizational misunderstandings.
“It’s the most important mission for the Air Force,” she said, and Jansson made sure that the weapons are “never doubted and always feared,” a phrase repeated throughout the ceremony.
Pawlikowski pinned Jansson with a distinguished service medal before passing the leadership title to Morris.
Morris, coming from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, told the nearly 200 people gathered on the base for the Friday ceremonies that he and his family are happy to be moving to Albuquerque.
“Today’s environment is perhaps more challenging than ever,” Morris said. He said the military nuclear weapons program is the “umbrella over all of us that proves the United States a strategic advantage throughout the world.”
The program he will oversee is responsible for acquiring, assembling and quality assuring the materials and weapons for the nuclear arsenal.
Jansson said it was his honor to end his career in the role overseeing this program, one of many crucial roles in his years in the military.
During his retirement ceremony, retired Maj. Gen. Kathleen Close said Jansson had a pivotal role in the F-16 fighter jet program in the U.S. and the sale of the weaponized jets to other countries. He also worked on GPS satellite creation and launches, some top-secret projects and was deployed to Iraq during combat.
Jansson’s wife, Janine Jansson, also was recognized for her contributions to the mission of the Air Force through her support for her husband and their two sons.