Friday, February 05, 2010

Air Force Global Strike Command gains three bomber bases

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFNS) -- Air Force Global Strike Command assumed responsibility for all long-range, nuclear-capable bombers Feb. 1 as its commander commemorated the occasion by visiting the Air Force's three bomber units, in three different states, on the same day.

"We're a new command, a command for the 21st Century," said Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, commander of a force that now numbers nearly 23,000 people responsible for 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles and 96 nuclear-capable bombers.

Completing what he called a "very methodical, step-by-step" transition, the general told Airmen at each location that bringing the nuclear-capable bombers over from Air Combat Command into the new command that already controls ICBMs is a step that continues to strengthen the Air Force's 'nuclear enterprise.' Joining the command were the 20 stealth B-2 Spirits in Missouri, and the 76 remaining B-52 Stratofortresses stationed at bomber wings in Louisiana and North Dakota. Air Force Global Strike Command gained the ICBMs on Dec. 1.

"Global strike and nuclear deterrence are the heart-and-soul of what the Air Force does," the general said, emphasizing the importance of the command's mission of deterring potential enemies while assuring allies.

After addressing hundreds of Airmen in a 7:30 a.m. gathering Feb. 1 at Barksdale, one of the two B-52 units in the Air Force, General Klotz took off for Minot AFB, N.D., along with the 8th Air Force commander, Maj. Gen. Floyd Carpenter, and Chief Master Sgt. Jack Johnson, Jr., the AFGSC command chief. Eighth Air Force runs daily operations and planning for the B-2 and B-52 units.

At Minot General Klotz met hundreds more Airmen who support B-52 operations there. He also had lunch with local civic leaders, met with reporters and talked with the unit's senior leaders.

A few hours later, General Klotz headed to Whiteman AFB, Mo., home of the B-2, for similar activities, interacting with Airmen and community leaders, as well as the base's senior leaders.

"Last April, President Obama said in a speech in Prague in the Czech Republic that as long as nuclear weapons exist in the world, we will have a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter attacks against the United States and to guarantee that same defense to our allies," the general said. "Those are our marching orders."

The general said it's been 27 years since Air Force officials created a brand-new major command, giving Air Force Global Strike Command a "golden opportunity."

"We have a great opportunity, ladies and gentlemen ... to get it absolutely right and to be a model command, a model for the rest of the Air Force."