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20th EBS Lightning mission hones maritime, aircrew capabilities

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Steve Teel
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Bombers from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., deployed here as part of the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron participated in a POLAR Lightning exercise this week exhibiting their ability to fulfill non-traditional mission requirements.

This POLAR mission focused on using B-52 Stratofortresses to locate a vessel at sea, assist the Coast Guard with search and rescue efforts, and maintain the bomber's strike capability. Bomber crews demonstrated their ability to use joint information sharing for search and rescue efforts to locate surface vessels while communicating the information to Coast Guard recovery teams, said Capt. Jason Grubaugh, 20th EBS weapons and tactics chief.

"This mission helps prepare us for the unexpected and allows us to enhance our SAR capabilities. If called upon to support future efforts, our crews are more than ready to accomplish the mission at hand," said Captain Grubaugh.

He added that the mission helped them develop new tactics, techniques and procedure to share with the rest of the B-52 community.

"Traditional POLAR Lightning missions are flown to showcase the global reach and power of our bomber force and at the same time the sorties give our aircrews an incredible opportunity to hone their skills," said Lt. Col. Thomas Hesterman, 20th EBS commander. "POLAR Lightning missions allow us to train like we fight by allowing our crews to experience the changing battle rhythm and human factor issues encountered on a long duration sortie."

He said the crew members continually prepare so they are ready for the fatigue and stress they will encounter during a long duration mission and are fully capable of handling a multitude of tasks to protect U.S. assets and interests.

The bomber rotation to Andersen AFB is aimed at enhancing regional security, demonstrating U.S. commitment to the Pacific region. The Air Force will continue to rotate bombers and fighters on a regular basis to ensure regional stability according to Andersen leadership.