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Andersen receives Barksdale bombers

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Redente
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Approximately 300 Airmen and three B-52 Stratofortress bombers from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., deployed here May 30 as part of a rotational bomber deployment to maintain stability and security in the Western Pacific.

"The mission here is part of the Continuous Bomber Presence that's been going on since 2004," said Lt. Col. David Ballew, 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron commander." This is the third or fourth time the 96th EBS has been here. It's a recurring deployment for us."

The B-2s departed here after the arrival of the Stratofortresses. The deployment, which is shared with B-1 Lancers and B-2 Spirits, also allows units to become familiar with operating in the Pacific theater.

"The fact that we are in a new environment [can be challenging while we are deployed], but that's what we train to do," said Capt. Brandon Fischer, 96th EBS aircraft commander and life support officer. "Some of the unique opportunities that we have on this deployment include a vast amount of air space to train, the chance to integrate and employ with other weapon systems, services and countries, and a variety of training exercises that include long-range precision strike on a continual basis."

Captain Fischer is one of many Airmen who have returned to Guam as part of the CBP mission.

"I'm very proud to be a part of the CBP mission," Captain Fischer said. "I think we have a wonderful purpose out here. Each and of every one of these individuals who deployed with this squadron have a sense of purpose as far as what they are doing out here. Even though we may not be involved in direct combat, we can stand ready at all times."

The 96th EBS will perform training missions to prepare for real-world missions and have a chance to integrate training with the F-22 Raptors.

"We're going to be accomplishing a variety of training," Colonel Ballew said. "The big thing is familiarizing our crews with the Pacific theater of operations. We get a chance to fly maritime interdiction and mining sorties that are hard to get back home. We also fly a lot of long-duration sorties to all parts of the Pacific theater.

"We get plenty of focused training out here, and we integrate with a lot of our coalition partners and other U.S. platforms already here at Andersen," he added.

Part of the training missions will include employment of simulated weapons. The 96th EBS will use their deployment location to include sorties for training over water and air refueling training.

Nearly half of the Airmen deployed from Barksdale AFB are assigned to the 96th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit. Senior Airman Eduardo Negron, 96th EAMXU crew chief, helped catch the aircraft when they arrived.

"We caught three jets arriving from Barksdale AFB," Airman Negron said. "We pretty much did the basic requirements and inspections after they landed, completing a 17-hour sortie."

Airman Negron has also returned to Guam for his second deployment in support of CBP.
"It feels good coming out here to support the CBP," he said. "It makes you feel really proud. I like the area. It's nice out here."

Airman Negron and the rest of the Airmen assigned to the 96th EAMXU are responsible for maintaining three B-52s.

"The B-52 Stratofortress has been around a long time," said Colonel Ballew. "The jets we are currently flying were all made in the 1960s which makes them older than almost all of the crew members flying them. It's a pretty unique thing. We are scheduled to keep flying for another 20 or 30 years, so even another generation will get to fly this plane.

"We like to tell people this is not your mother's B-52. It looks the same on the outside as you might have seen on old footage, but completely reworked on the inside. The B-52 is a very capable platform. We've participated in every U.S. conflict since the plane has been put into service. The plane has a rich heritage, and we like to say that we can shoot or drop just about anything that the Air Force has in inventory."

The 96th EBS and the 96th EAMXU are scheduled to be here for a four-month deployment.

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