The Air Force continues to BUFF up its presence in the Pacific.
Four B-52 bombers and more than 200 Airmen from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., arrived at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam on March 30 to kick off the service’s latest Bomber Task Force deployment in the Indo-Pacific.
The aircraft and personnel are part of the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron. While deployed to Andersen, they will participate in training exercises and missions with other services, as well as allies and partners, Pacific Air Forces announced in a release.
“The bomber task force, and specifically the B-52s in the Indo-Pacific region, not only allows our crew force to hone their superior technical and weapons system expertise, but also sends an extremely important message,” Lt. Col. Vanessa Wilcox, commander of the 96th Bomb Squadron, said in a statement. “It demonstrates our continued readiness and commitment to our allies in the region to ensure freedom of movement now and in the future, as well as ensures stability in the region.”
The B-52s’ arrival comes a little less than a month after the end of the last Bomber Task Force rotation at Guam—B-1s and personnel from the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron returned home to Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., on March 5.
USAF bombers have been active in the Indo-Pacific region since the start of 2023, particularly around the Korean Peninsula as part of the Pentagon’s commitment to expand exercises and cooperation with South Korea, officially known as the Republic of Korea, in response to increased missile tests and threats from North Korea.
B-1s have flown with South Korean fighters four times since the start of February, and B-52s also flew over South Korea with ROK aircraft in early March.
In addition to the Pacific, B-52s have conducted Bomber Task Force missions in both the Middle East and Europe this year, though in both cases, the bombers were from Minot Air Force Base, N.D. This latest deployment to Guam marks the first BTF for Barksdale aircraft and Airmen in 2023, though the base did send B-52s to Andersen for a quick three-day Bomber Task Force mission in late December.