NEWS | March 29, 2022

Barksdale Airmen accomplish Bomber Task Force deployment, return home

By 1st Lt. Kaitlin Cashin Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

Since the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron arrived to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam in February the total force accomplished a variety of strategic missions to include: strengthening partnerships in the Indo-Pacific, engaging the joint force with close air support rehearsals, and refining tactics and techniques in a different geographic area of responsibility—all as part of a Bomber Task Force deployment.

The BTF enables different types of strategic bombers to operate forward in the Indo-Pacific region in support of the National Defense Strategy’s objectives to enable strategic predictability and operational unpredictability,

These 220 Airmen deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana along with four B-52H Stratofortresses. During their time in the Indo-Pacific theater, the 96th EBS flew 25 sorties, attained over 200 flying hours, and integrated with over 196 allied, partner and joint force aircraft. 

“[We] have demonstrated with our presence that the U.S. is ready to deter our adversaries in the region by protecting the international waters,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Coleman, 96th EBS Commander, in remarks to Airmen, “BTF missions are designed to showcase [Pacific Air Forces’ ability to deter, deny, and dominate any influence or aggression from adversaries or competitors – that is what we accomplished during our time at Guam, and what our teams will continue to accomplish with the lessons learned that we are bringing back to home station.”

This iteration of BTF began with Pacific’s largest multilateral exercise, Cope North. The 96th EBS B-52 aircrews worked alongside U.S. Air Force, Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), and Korean Armed Forces along with over 30 U.S. military units. The aircrew trained together through mission planning, flying sorties, and debrief sessions.

In addition to the multilateral training efforts at Cope North 2022, the 96th EBS showed up for partners in the region by making an appearance at the region's most influential aviation event, the Singapore Airshow 2022.

“Partnerships and cooperation are the source of our strength in the Indo-Pacific,” said 96 EBS Director of Operations, Maj. Kris Souza. “We aren’t operating here alone, we’re part of a team made up of our allied nations who call this part of the world home. Teammates practice together and they show up for each other and that’s exactly what we did with this Bomber Task Force.

Joint integration was a key aspect of the B-52 mission during their BTF deployment. The teams executed a range of joint operations, including integration with the U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs, training with Special Operations MC-130s in the South China Sea, working alongside U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy assets, and coordinating multiple close air support munitions drops with joint terminal attack controllers in the region. 

The BTF demonstrated the bomber force is capable of building success through teamwork, from international military exercises to inter-service collaboration to total-force efforts,

“It takes every unit to get these jets off the ground, whether you’re launching or recovering jets, maintaining our combat airpower, ensuring our jets can communicate with our allies and partners, or taking care of the people who make the B-52 a visible and lethal presence in this region,” said Coleman. “Our teams should head home feeling beyond proud of their part in ensuring our BTF met every combatant command objective.”

Routine Bomber Task Force missions continue to support Pacific Air Forces’ training efforts with allies, partners and joint forces. BTFs accomplish strategic deterrence missions to reinforce the rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific region.