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Whiteman Airmen reflect on accomplishments as preparations are made to redeploy

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Redente
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Airmen are preparing to redeploy to Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., after completing more than 120 sorties in three and a half months while supporting the Continuous Bomber Presence here.

"We have been here as part of the Continuous Bomber Presence in support of Pacific Command's strategy for the region," said Lt. Col. Jason R. Armagost, 13th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron commander. "Essentially, it's a presence mission, which involves training and deployed sorties for engagement and deterrence within and throughout the Pacific."

The 13th EBS consists of an assembly of pilots, mission planners, and technicians in aircrew flight equipment, knowledge operations and computer skills, all a team composed to complete the task of a sortie.

Like any unit that deploys, the 13th EBS had its share of hurdles, but the commander is optimistic of the experience.

"A lot of challenges end up being opportunities, but deploying the B-2 with the maintainability of a stealth aircraft is challenging itself," Colonel Armagost said. "However, flying out here in the Pacific is fantastic. Weather is conducive to high sortie rates, and the air space is fantastic.

During their rotation here, the 13th EBS was able to complete more than 700 flying hours and upgrade pilots in a little more than 100 days.

"We've maintained an unbelievably high sortie rate," said Colonel Armagost. "We've trained our pilots to a very high degree, accomplished quite a few upgrades and we've also had a constant flow of flying that keeps us engaged with how we go about mission planning and how we go about executing sorties without a lot of fits and starts."

Whiteman AFB is the only base assigned B-2 Spirit bombers. The B-2s are part of a continuous rotation shared with B-1B Lancers and B-52 Stratofortresses.

"Being away from Whiteman has given us an opportunity to exercise some of our mission planning cell skills that we have here to come up with new missions and also generate some new learning points for our younger folks," said Maj. Matthew J. Michaud, 13th EBS chief of weapons and tactics. "Primarily we've been training. It's a great opportunity to go out in the Pacific to different ranges and not only drop live, but also inert weapons.

The major also highlighted the ability for the B-2s to be deployed for the first time with the F-22 Raptors and have the ability to work with the fighter squadron earlier in the deployment.

"One of the biggest accomplishments we've had was with the F-22s," Major Michaud said. "The 90th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron was out here when we first showed up, so we were able to integrate quite a bit."

The B-2s and the F-22s were able to accomplish some long-range missions together and fly large skill missions over Alaska.

"It was a good opportunity for training not only for us, but the F-22s as well," the major said. "The great opportunity of being at Andersen is that we've got great training capabilities, and we're able to partake in a lot of things going on here. "

The bomb squadron didn't limit their opportunities to working in the sky. They also provided assistance outside the gate in the local community.

"The people of Guam have been very welcoming to all of us," Major Michaud said. "It's a great opportunity for us to go out and help out with special events such as the Special Olympics and other things that are going around on the island, so as far as a deployment goes, it's a great opportunity to not only fly but also to interact with a bunch of other people that we wouldn't get a chance to meet back home."

While the Airmen are looking forward to returning to their home and families, the Airmen know the opportunity will be there during their next rotation to represent the CBP mission here.

"We are looking to explore opportunities to get more bombing opportunities, but the wing has been working the issue aggressively for us, so that's something that will develop in the future to a greater extent," he said.

The commander has enjoyed deploying with his unit and getting to know the strengths and weaknesses of his Airmen.

"The CBP mission has been a fantastic opportunity for me as commander, because the circumstances of being deployed allow you to really get to know your people," Colonel Armagost said. "You get to see their talents and work on maybe some of their weaknesses, and bring them along within the squadron. Then the squadron of course benefits quite a bit from that and gets a lot better."

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