A 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-1B Lancer flies over the Philippine Sea, May 6, 2020, as part of Bomber Task Force. The B-1 carries the largest payload of both guided and unguided conventional weapons in the U.S. Air Force inventory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman River Bruce)
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam — The 7th Bomb Wing’s readiness was on full display supporting Pacific Air Forces’ Bomber Task Force mission despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Approximately 200 Airmen and four 9th Bomb Squadron B-1B Lancers from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, arrived at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, on short notice to conduct missions in the Indo-Pacific theater to support Pacific Air Forces’ training efforts with allies, partners and joint forces; and strategic deterrence missions to reinforce the rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific region.
“When the commander in chief says he wants four B-1B Lancers in the Indo-Pacific, we say ‘they’ll be there’ even in a pandemic,” said Col. Jose “Ed” Sumangil, 7th BW commander. “And that’s what we did on very short notice. We were able to make this happen because of the effort as a whole from Team Dyess to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission while sustaining our mission capabilities.”
The BTF is an example of a dynamic force employment, which provides a persistent, long-term bomber presence in the Indo-Pacific theater and around the globe.
“We’re putting the National Defense Strategy into action,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Stallsworth, 9th EBS commander. “Bombers are anywhere in the world, at any time, for as long as necessary.”
In line with the National Defense Strategy’s objectives of strategic predictability and operational unpredictability, the U.S. Air Force has transitioned its force employment model to enable strategic bombers to operate forward in the Indo-Pacific region from a broader array of overseas and CONUS locations with greater operational resilience.
“We’re keeping our adversaries on their toes,” said Stallsworth. “Our adversaries don’t know where we are residing and projecting power from. We can display our air superiority in the Pacific, Europe or anywhere in the world, whenever we want.”
The bombers have flown three training missions in the East China Sea since the squadron’s arrival. These missions would not have been possible without help from the KC-135 Stratrotankers assigned or deployed to various bases in the PACAF theater.
“Our pilots have been excited to fly these long-duration missions. My aviators love to fly, and [the] BTF has included some of the best training they can receive,” said Stallsworth.
The U.S. Air Force stood down the B-1B Lancer fleet for maintenance issues, which allowed for in-depth repairs to the aircraft.
“We’ve been able to reap the benefits of the great maintenance that was conducted on the B-1B over the last year,” said Stallsworth. “We took a temporary pause to take care of our aircraft, but its back in action and displaying its true force.”
The last time the B-1Bs were deployed to the region was 2017. Bombers from the 9th EBS supported missions from Andersen AFB, conducting multiple sequenced bilateral missions with the Republic of Korea Air Force and the Japan Air Self Defense Force.
“Just two and a half weeks ago, we were back home enjoying life in the states and the phone rang,” said Stallsworth. “Our nation called. We answered, and we’re here.”
This article was originally published on May 7, 2020, by the U.S. Air Force.
Katie McCarthy is the managing editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. Her career in journalism began at the Columbus (Georgia) Ledger-Enquirer in 2008, where she learned to navigate the newsroom as a features reporter, copy editor, page designer, and online producer; prior to joining Coffee or Die, she worked for Outdoor Sportsman Group as an editor for Guns & Ammo magazine and their Special Interest Publications division. Katie currently lives in Indiana with her husband and two daughters.
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