KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Brig. Gen. Anthony W. “Awgie” Genatempo took command of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center during a ceremony June 26 at the Phillips Conference Center here.
He succeeds Maj. Gen. Shaun Q. Morris, who took command of AFNWC in October 2017.
The center is responsible for synchronizing all aspects of nuclear materiel management on behalf of Air Force Materiel Command in direct support of Air Force Global Strike Command. With its headquarters here at Kirtland AFB, the center has about 1,400 personnel assigned to 18 locations worldwide.
In a first for AFNWC, some members of the official party attended the ceremony via video due to COVID-19 mitigation measures, including Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr., AFMC commander, who presided over the change-of-command ceremony, and Dr. Will Roper, Air Force assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, who presided over the Air Force program executive officer change in leadership.
During the live-streamed event, Bunch expressed his appreciation for Morris’ leadership during his past three years as the center’s commander and the work done by the AFNWC team.
“This is a one or zero business that you are in, it’s either right or wrong when we do these acquisitions. The Air Force nuclear enterprise has got to be at 100 percent,” Bunch said, noting the level of rigor and precision expected from individuals who are developing and fielding nuclear weapons. “The mission is vital to our national defense and to our nuclear deterrent. With the air and the land leg, we have two-thirds of the triad, and when you add in nuclear command, control and communications, we have much, much more than that. That’s why the role of this unit is so critical and why it has to perform at such a high level. Today we bid a fond farewell to Shaun and [his wife] Jean after three years of carrying the torch for the nuclear enterprise and doing a fantastic job as a leadership team.”
Bunch said Morris “set a new standard” in the programs he led at AFNWC, including the Long Range Stand-Off Weapon, Minuteman III, Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, ICBM fuze, programmed depot maintenance, and weapon generation facilities, bringing them “to a whole new level” and kept nuclear modernization efforts on track."
In terms of manpower, Bunch said when Morris arrived at AFNWC, it didn’t have enough manning to execute many of its programs, but now, under Morris’ leadership, “we are hiring the right people, we got the right skill sets, we’re getting them to the right places, and we are buying down the risk on these key programs.”
Bunch also praised the relationships and collaborations Morris built across the Defense Department, including with the Navy and Air Force Global Strike Command, which is the center’s primary customer.
“A key success was the level of credibility that the Nuclear Weapons Center brings now when they come into conversations,” Bunch said. “[They are] true professionals who when we say will deliver something at a certain time, especially milestones, everyone expects it and they know it’s going to happen. The level of credibility, the level of trust, is higher than I’ve ever seen in any enterprise and a lot of that, Shaun, has to do with your leadership. You have done a tremendous job as the commander for the last three years and as the [program executive officer], and you should feel very good walking out the door that you’ve set the team on a path to make sure our nuclear modernization, which is so key, continues.”
“It has been a tremendous honor to be part of AFNWC for the past almost three years,” Morris said.
To the AFNWC team, he said, “General Bunch was incredibly kind to talk about [my] accomplishments and you all have to recognize that those are your accomplishments. What I appreciate and thank you for is the ability to be alongside you as you were doing it, and maybe in some cases…helping to facilitate that success for you by maybe getting some obstacles out of your way. I have been tremendously blessed to be here and have the opportunity to work with such an incredible, fantastic group of professionals, who as General Bunch said, do a wartime mission every single day.”
“Ninety-nine percent of the people in this country have no idea what you do every single day, and how thankful they should be for it, but 100 percent of the people in this country benefit from what you do every day to keep them safe, because you keep our nuclear deterrent viable and active, and never doubted and always feared. The nation owes you a debit of gratitude and on their behalf I will say, ‘thank you.’”
Morris was confirmed for promotion to lieutenant general and next month is taking command of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, which is headquartered at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
“When you have a good leader and they leave...you have to pick the right officer to come in behind and pick up the mantle and run with it,” Bunch said. “Awgie Genatempo is the right guy right now to bring into the organization and take it to the next level.”
After assuming command, Genatempo said this is the second time he has followed Morris in an assignment—the first time was just prior to a Category-5 hurricane bearing down on Eglin AFB, Florida. He pointed out this time Morris has given him the leadership challenge of bringing an organization out of a global pandemic, yet another “calamity.”
“This is truly ‘déjà vu all over again,’” Genatempo added. “I started my Air Force career as a second lieutenant here at Kirtland Air Force Base. I’m very excited to be coming back.”
To the AFNWC team, he said, “If there is one thing that has impressed me in the very short day and a half that I’ve spent with you, it’s your dedication and drive for what can arguably be said is our nation’s most important mission. And the fact that you get after it with such enthusiasm and vigor, it’s someplace that I know I’m going to feel right at home and I’m proud already to be a part of this organization.”
He also thanked General Bunch for his mentorship over the past 11 years, “which has shaped me into the person that I am” as a leader.
In addition to assuming command of AFNWC, Genatempo became dual-hatted as the Air Force program executive officer for strategic systems, a position Morris also held.
During the change-in-leadership ceremony, Roper offered his thanks for the “quiet peace that comes from our nuclear deterrent that is maintained every day” by the AFNWC team, adding “there is a big challenge ahead as we modernize the triad that has been sitting, doing its job quietly, but is in some need of…care.”
“Shaun, coming into [my] job it only took one meeting with you to realize what a consummate acquisition professional you are. It made coming into the position of a service acquisition executive so much easier…having [your] steady hand with an encyclopedic knowledge of your programs,” Roper said. “It also doesn’t take more than a meeting with Awgie to realize that this is a leader who makes people comfortable and inspired to do things differently and, as someone who loves innovation, that’s just a wonderful resource to have in the acquisition enterprise.”
Previously, Genatempo was the Air Force’s program executive officer for weapons and dual-hatted as the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s armament director at Eglin AFB, Florida.