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Seamless turnover: 20 EBS picks up where sister unit left off

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Whitney Tucker
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
More than 300 Airmen assigned to the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, La., arrived here recently to replace their sister unit, the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron in support of U.S. Pacific Command's continuous bomber presence.

Andersen has hosted the CBP since 2003, when Pacific Air Forces began to routinely deploy B-1, B-2 and B-52 bomber aircraft to Guam on a rotational basis. The rotation of bomber aircraft is specifically designed to enhance regional security and demonstrate the United States' commitment to stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Our mission at Andersen is to support PACOM and 13th Air Force objectives as part of the CBP and for any and all contingency operations that may come about," said Lt. Col. Michael Miller, 20 EBS commander. "The B-52 provides the capability to reach anywhere in the PACOM area of responsibility with a wide variety of weapons allowing us to respond to whatever threats arise."

The CBP also allows the opportunity to integrate bombers into joint and coalition training exercises in the Pacific.

"Since our arrival two weeks ago, we have already participated in one training exercise and there are at least 10 more we have identified over the next several months," Colonel Miller said. "We will also have the unique opportunity to participate in exercises with our allies from Korea, Japan and Australia, an experience not available to us during our time in the United States."

Fewer airspace restrictions, closer training ranges and the miles of endless ocean that surround the island make Guam a unique environment difficult to replicate during stateside training flights.

"Pacific Command covers a huge expanse of area," Colonel Miller said. "We train primarily in the Continental United States, over land, with navigation aids to help us and airfields all over the place. The challenges and opportunities for growth while operating in this AOR are dramatically different. We also don't get to train with foreign allies while at home, so being able to see how they operate and integrate is essential to raising the proficiency of our squadron to the next level."

Airman 1st Class Megan France, 20 EBS intelligence analyst, is charged with the responsibility of providing continual support to the B-52 mission, delivering vital information on conditions in the AOR. A Missouri native, Airman France looks forward to gaining valuable real-world experience and honing her skills in a new environment.

"It is interesting to see how systems change from one location to the next," Airman France said. "The PACOM AOR has a high operations tempo and I know I can gain experience and training over the next few months that will benefit me throughout my career."

"I hope to expand my knowledge and understanding of not just my job, but the 20 EBS mission as a whole," she concluded.

In between flying missions, members of the 20 EBS hope to build a good rapport with the local community, improve fitness and foster espirit de corps within their squadron.

"We are looking to work with housing and urban development on projects such as improving local schools," Colonel Miller said. "And since we will be here through Thanksgiving, we plan to celebrate by running Sander's Slope and eating turkey afterwards. Being separated from your family can be difficult, but it also provides opportunities to grow together and form lasting bonds. At home we all have families; here, we have to be that for each other."

The coming months represent a rare opportunity for the loaner-squadron. Its many members are excited to be here and anxious to show what the 20 EBS Buccaneers have to offer the PACOM AOR Colonel Miller said.

"The capabilities of the B-52 are vital to PACOM plans and our crews get to see firsthand how we fit into those plans while simultaneously focusing on training," he said. "This truly is the best opportunity we're given for real-world and realistic training at the same time. My hope is to leave here a better trained, and more cohesive unit."

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