HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Col. Amanda Kato became the new director of the Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications (NC3) Integration Directorate during a change of leadership ceremony here June 28. She also became the Air Force’s program executive officer for NC3.
Maj. Gen. Shaun Morris, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center commander, who presided over the event, said that it was an “awesome day for the Air Force where we’re changing from one great leader to another.”
Replacing Col. Al LaPuma, who is retiring after more than 29 years of service, Kato offered a few thoughts specifically for the members of the NC3 Integration team.
“I believe in you, I believe in the organization, I believe in the mission that we’re doing,” she said. “I’m honored to be your leader.”
Speaking about LaPuma, Morris said he built a great team when standing up the directorate. Using the NBA as an example, he said LaPuma was the Air Force’s Michael Jordan, who surrounded himself with a great team and then won championship after championship.
“With Al’s leadership and his great complementary team, this organization has done far more than was ever was expected of them when this started,” Morris said.
LaPuma and his team defined the weapon system, established a baseline, determined where the Air Force is going in the short term, and created a vision for the long term that will set the foundation for how we do nuclear command and control for the Air Force, the department and the nation.
Morris used the NBA player Kevin Durant as his example for Kato.
“The Golden State Warriors already had a great supporting cast and they went and got one more great [player], which is what we have,” he said. “Amanda is perfectly suited for this job.”
Morris said Kato’s already a part of the Hanscom family in her role as the senior materiel leader for the Family of Advanced Beyond-Line-of-Sight Terminals, or FAB-T, and has the right attributes and experience.
“She’s perfectly prepared to take the vision Al set and now go execute that vision with this great team to move this weapon system forward.”
LaPuma said he hopes when Kato is moving on from NC3, she’s as happy with her replacement as he is with her taking over for him.
He talked about bringing the organization from its infancy into its early stages, and that Kato will be able to take it to the next level.
Kato said she is grateful for the opportunity.
To LaPuma she said, “You built a team that I get to inherit and I’m so excited about that. This team is motivated and knows their mission.”
Morris emphasized that the work done by the organization here at Hanscom focusing on C3 systems such as sophisticated radio systems, receivers, etc., that allow emergency action messages to be passed accurately and rapidly, is critical.
“What we do in the nuclear business is the strategic foundation for everything we do in the Department of Defense,” he said. “All of our strategies are rooted first and foremost in strategic deterrence and everything else falls underneath that. You have no strategic deterrence if you don’t have credible, reliable command and control systems.”