Nuclear Deterrence Operations names CGO of the Year


Winners of the 2016 Nuclear Deterrence Operations, and Nuclear and Missile Operations Awards were announced in July 2017. Among the selected few was a 70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing cyber warrior.

The chief of Nuclear Command and Control Mission Planning and Requirements for the 707th Communications Squadron, Capt. Charles Howell, clinched the 2016 NDO Company Grade Officer of the Year award.

Howell stood above the rest in bring the future faster, and was surprised when he was honored. He had no clue his leadership was watching him so closely.

“I was surprised by my group and squadron leadership,” Howell explained. “They told me they wanted to bring our new leadership out to our work center for a meet and greet, then to receive a brief on our mission. After a few minutes of briefing, they interrupted to tell me the real reason they were visiting.”

The captain not only credits his local team, but the Airmen and NDO professionals around the globe for his success.

“There are a lot of incredible officers across nuclear operations, doing even more incredible work for our deterrence mission,” he said.  

Because of the wing’s seemingly small size and location, it would seem that the Airmen here only have a small imprint on Air Combat Command missions, but because of Airmen like Howell, that is quite the opposite.

“I thought I maybe had a shot, given the impact of what we do and what we provide for the ‘nuke’ enterprise, but honestly, I didn't expect to win,” Howell said. “Not to mention, we're a little hidden away, being that we are a small nuke branch with ADCON (administrative control) in a communications squadron, within an intelligence wing, under ACC. So, about as far away from the core Air Force Global Strike Command mission as you can get!”  

Although he was recognized for his accomplishments in 2016, Howell gave much due credit to his NC2 team, a team of seven military and civilian members. He said they focus on continuing to modernize and sustain what nuclear operations are today into tomorrow, making sure there is security and surety in today’s nuclear command and control.

Howell is a key player in global readiness, according to his squadron commander.

“Capt. Howell is the first-ever military Branch Chief to serve in the mission requirements role for the agency,” said Col. Mark Betters, 707th CS commander. “He directed key nuclear products to secure global readiness from POTUS to the warfighter. In addition, he was integral in modernizing the nuclear emergency action messaging process with the development of the electronic codebook.”    

Betters noted that Howell is dual-hatted and served as a flight commander within the 707th CS.

“He is leading a special mission’s flight of 32 Airmen with seven career specialties in satellite communications, intelligence, NC2, engineering and information assurance operations at eight National Security Agency locations for six combatant commands,” Betters said.

Howell talked about the Airmen who pull alert duty, ICBM operators, those flying missions, providing security, maintenance, supporting nuclear weapons and overseeing NC2 products. He realizes they are essential to the defense of our country and the importance of what they do cannot be overstated.

“The biggest thing I can say to anyone working in NDO is ‘thank you’," Howell said. “We're a lot of times an unsung force who most people take for granted, however, we are a critical, if not the, most important part of reinforcing our nation's shield. So, thank you for what you do!”