KUAM News Guam: Andersen AFB gets increase in bombers
Just as regional tensions heighten with continual threats from North Korea against the United States, Guam is seeing an increased military presence with some of the military's most capable aircraft bombers here on island. They're our eyes in the sky, and in a rare occurrence, Guam's Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo is hosting three major military bombers - the B-1b lancer, B-52 Stratofortress, and B-2 Spirit.
The B-52s have been in Guam for the past six months, and will be replaced over the next few weeks by six B-1 aircraft from South Dakota, which are now forward-deployed to Guam in support of the US Pacific Command's continuous bomber presence mission.
Commander of the 34th Bomb Squadron Lieutenant Colonel Seth Spanier said, "The unique thing here about our opportunities here as part of the continuous bomber presence is we really have the opportunity to train across all of the mission sets that the B-1 is capable of, so we will routinely, on a day-in and day-out basis get to train with the land, air and naval forces of both the US and our allies and partners in the region. So it's really an unmatched training opportunity for our squadron."
B-52 pilot from the 69th Bomb Squadron Captain Kaitlin Tardieu and 1st Lieutenant Ruben Labrador said after a successful mission, they will be heading home once the changeover is completed. "We've been out here the past six months flying Pacific power projection sorties, so all over the Pacific AOR doing assurance deterrence mission," said Tardieu. And Labrador added, "It's been an amazing experience, we get to use equipment we wouldn't usually use and integrate with our allies."
The forward deployed presence aims to demonstrate continuing US commitment to stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific Region. At the same time, three B-2 Spirits from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri are in Guam for a bomber assurance and deterrence mission.
Director of operations for the 13th Bomb Squadron Lieutenant Colonel Keith Butler said random training deployments such as these are meant to maintain crew readiness and provide unique training opportunities. "And finally, also gives us chance to work with our other bomber aircraft we've got inside global strike command as well as some of our regional allies and partners for national security and deterrence in this part of the world," he said. This typically includes partners from Australia, South Korea and Japan.
The move comes amidst heightened tensions in the region, most notably with North Korea. Just over the weekend, the communist state accused the United States of seeking to invade the country, specifically citing the deployment of nuclear capable US bombers to Guam as evidence. It also threatened to strike first against the US, if necessary.
Lieutenant Colonel Butler said the B-2s will remain in Guam for the next few weeks. However the B-1b Lancers will remain in Guam for at least another six months.
Military officials assert the B-2 deployment to Guam is part of a routine rotation, and is not a response to recent provocations from North Korea.