Barksdale B-52s arrive in Guam, complete bomber rotation

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Don Perrien
  • 36th Expeditionary Operations Group
Airmen from the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, La., and their B-52 Stratofortress bombers arrived in Guam recently to begin a four-month deployment here.

The Louisiana-based aircraft, aircrew, support and maintenance members replaced the Minot AFB, N.D., Airmen who redeployed home as part of a scheduled rotation of bomber units.

The rotational bomber presence at Andersen AFB is aimed at enhancing regional security, demonstrating U.S. commitment to the Western Pacific, and providing integrated training opportunities for deployed Airmen.

"The Air Force continues to rotate bombers into the western Pacific as the U.S. Pacific Command adjusts its force posture to maintain a prudent deterrent capability," said Col. Todd Westhauser, the 36th Expeditionary Operations Group commander. "The U.S. Pacific Command is committed to promoting peace and security in the region, and deploying our B-52s to Guam is a big part of that effort."

Six aircraft and approximately 300 Airmen will be deployed here through May. This will be the sixth rotation of bombers into Andersen AFB since the current schedule began in 2004.

Even as the first B-52s arrived here from the Eastern U.S., the new Airmen didn't waste any time getting off the ground flying their assigned missions.

"We flew our first sorties before the last plane arrived from Barksdale," said Lt. Col. Steve Matson, the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron commander. "It was important for us to establish a rhythm in our day-to-day operations."

The first sorties flown by Barksdale AFB crews were orientation and training missions designed to familiarize the aircrews with their new surroundings. The B-52s flew orientation routes over the local flight area around Guam, and through the training areas north of the island.

"This deployment will provide our unit with a number of opportunities to enhance our aircrew's flying skills," Colonel Matson said. "We came out here with a number of Airmen who are on their first deployment. Our operations here will provide a building block to improve their flying skills and capabilities for future deployments and missions."

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