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Exercise tests command's deterrent capabilities

A B-52H Stratofortress sits on the flightline at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., after being loaded with air-launched cruise missiles during a Constant Vigilance aircraft generation exercise May 7, 2015. Air Force Global Strike Command routinely conducts training activities and exercises to ensure its forces are ready to perform nuclear deterrence and long-range strike operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kristoffer Kaubisch)

A B-52H Stratofortress sits on the flightline at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., after being loaded with air-launched cruise missiles during a Constant Vigilance aircraft generation exercise May 7, 2015. Air Force Global Strike Command routinely conducts training activities and exercises to ensure its forces are ready to perform nuclear deterrence and long-range strike operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kristoffer Kaubisch)

Weapons loaders assigned to Air Force Global Strike Command secure air-launched cruise missiles on a B-52H Stratofortress during an aircraft generation event during Exercise Constant Vigilance at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., May 7, 2015. Training and exercise participation hones AFGSC's nuclear deterrence and long-range strike capabilities, ensuring the command is ready to support the president and combatant commanders if and when called upon to do so. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kristoffer Kaubisch)

Weapons loaders assigned to Air Force Global Strike Command secure air-launched cruise missiles on a B-52H Stratofortress during an aircraft generation event during Exercise Constant Vigilance at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., May 7, 2015. Training and exercise participation hones AFGSC's nuclear deterrence and long-range strike capabilities, ensuring the command is ready to support the president and combatant commanders if and when called upon to do so. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kristoffer Kaubisch)

BARKSDALE AFB, La. (AFNS) -- Air Force Global Strike Command’s bomb wings participated in exercise Constant Vigilance May 4-13, demonstrating the command's flexibility and global reach while testing its tactics, techniques and procedures.

Airmen from headquarters AFGSC; the Eighth Air Force and the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana; the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota; and 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB, Missouri; honed their skills in planning and generating aircraft in surge operations.

An annual AFGSC exercise, Constant Vigilance is designed to train and assess the command's ability to perform its conventional and nuclear missions. Using notional scenarios, command and control elements, and operational units effectively demonstrated AFGSC's ability to perform nuclear deterrence operations and long-range strike missions if and when called upon to do so.

"The exercise offers AFGSC units the ability to hone their nuclear deterrence skills," said Robert Thomson, the AFGSC's Exercise Division chief. "Only with continual, robust and realistic training can we ensure our units are prepared and ready for this vital mission set."

Training and participation in exercises such as Constant Vigilance are critical to AFGSC’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to real-world situations.

"It provides an opportunity to practice our number one priority mission and gives our Airmen the opportunity to learn and build experience, while allowing us to further hone our procedures as an integrated unit," said Col. David Benson, the 509th Operations Group commander. "While providing that invaluable experience for our Airmen, it instills confidence that we can execute our primary mission."

Benson said the exercise provides a precious opportunity to train with operational command and control in the lead.

"Nuclear operational C2 procedures are developed to be very secure for obvious reasons. However, this forces detailed and more complicated communication procedures than normal, conventional C2," he said. "It is critical to practice these procedures during exercises like Constant Vigilance so that critical nuclear C2 is ready and able when called upon."

For members of Eighth Air Force's, Constant Vigilance was an opportunity to exercise their mission of quickly providing combatant commanders with kinetic and nonkinetic capabilities to achieve strategic effects.

"Participating in CV helps our wings by improving our collective muscle memory. It is comparable to knowing how to prepare (and ultimately perform) a physical training evaluation and then actually preparing and performing the evaluation," said Master Sgt. Joshua Craig, a cruise missile manager. "By participating in CV the wings ensure our forces are ready to perform nuclear deterrence operations and long-range strike missions if and when called upon to do so."

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