Mr. Eric Meiers joined the AFIT team in August 2020 as the director of the Air Force Nuclear College located at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. The college is a department of the Air Force Institute of Technology’s School of Strategic Force Studies. He takes over from Mr. Harold “Skip” Camacho who retired earlier in the year.
The Air Force Nuclear College was established in 2004 as part of the Air Force’s nuclear roadmap to rebuild nuclear expertise through education, training, and career force development. As the director, Meiers is responsible for leading a team of 10 faculty and staff who provide professional continuing education on nuclear deterrence and assurance challenges to approximately 1,700 Airmen annually.
“For me, working in the human capital, force development, and force management portion of the Air Force Nuclear Enterprise has been extremely rewarding personally and professionally,” said Meiers. “Making a difference in the lives of Airmen is huge and is something that I really value about my career.”
Meiers’ goal is to continue shaping the Nuclear College into a center of excellence for the Air Force. “We have faculty and staff that are second to none. All of our courses are highly regarded, and our students routinely give high marks for what and how we present,” Meiers said.
For Meiers, this new role is a culminating position as part of a 34-year Air Force career, which includes 22 years on active duty. “I believe that all of my life’s experiences have led up to this point and have contributed to my capabilities that put me in an ideal position to serve as the director of the college,” Meiers said.
According to the School of Strategic Force Studies Dean, Col Craig Narasaki, the search for the Air Force Nuclear College’s Director was rigorous and highly competitive. “I believe Eric’s background and commitment to Air Force core values perfectly position him to advance the Air Force Nuclear College to new heights. We are excited to have him on our team,” said Narasaki.
Meiers was commissioned into the Air Force in 1986 and proceeded to hold numerous operational and staff positions, completed twelve overseas temporary duty assignments, and was selected for command.
However, joining the Air Force wasn’t his first career choice. Meiers had been employed for over four years as a high school teacher when his brother asked if he had ever considered serving in the military. At a Southern California recruiting station, Meiers told a recruiter he was interested in serving as an air traffic controller, contracting officer, or as a pilot, but without 20/20 vision he wasn’t qualified for the latter. The recruiter said, ‘If you want to fly, how about a navigator?’ and I asked ‘What’s that?’” he remembered.
Meiers went on to become a command navigator with more than 3,100 flying hours, primarily in the KC-135. He flew 29 combat missions during Operations Desert Shield, Desert Calm, and Northern Watch.
Working in the Air Force Nuclear Enterprise began early in Meiers’ career. His first Air Force assignment was with the 340th Air Refueling Wing at Altus AFB, Oklahoma where he sat nuclear alert more than 60 times. “This was the Strategic Air Command days where the nuclear mission was pretty much everything,” he recalled.
One assignment that was particularly rewarding for Meiers was his Joint tour to the U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt AFB, Nebraska. During that time, he received invaluable career mentoring, was picked up for squadron command, completed Joint and Combined Warfighting School, and established many life-long friendships. “I had the opportunity to be on the same team with then Lt. Col. Tim Ray, who is now Commander, Air Force Global Strike Command,” he said. “Among many others, he was a great colleague and friend during that assignment.”
Following his retirement from active duty in 2008, Meiers was employed as a counter-proliferation policy analyst and counter-chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear exercise training and evaluation subject matter expert on the Headquarters Air Force staff. Later, he worked as an information systems and infrastructure management and program analyst for the Department of Homeland Security before rejoining the Headquarters Air Force staff in 2010 as a management and program analyst in the Deputy Chief of Staff, Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration’s Policy and Strategy and Force Development divisions.
“I feel like I bring some experience to the table that the Nuclear College hasn’t had before,” Meiers said. “I believe the faculty will benefit from the 12 years I worked on the Headquarters Air Force staff.”
Originally from Oceanside, California, Meiers earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematical sciences from Biola University, California, followed by two Master’s degrees - one in business management from Webster University, Missouri, and the other in information technology from Creighton University, Nebraska.