Air Force B-1B bomber units send aircrews into action in Southwest Asia ahead of their unit rotation to fly missions with the current bomber crews—forming “rainbow crews”—to gain experience on current theater operations, reports SrA. Clark Staehle. In the latest SWA rotation, airmen of the 9th Bomb Squadron at Dyess AFB, Tex., replaced those of the 34th BS from Ellsworth AFB, S.D. Capt. Scott Digioia, an instructor pilot deployed from the 9th BS, noted that the outgoing crews also can suffer complacency, so flying with “fresh” crew members keeps them on their toes and provides needed continuity. These bomber crews fly exacting close air support missions, although 9th BS weapon systems officer Capt. Matt Steele, notes that often the mere presence of a B-1B over an enemy is enough to cause them to back off an attack on coalition forces.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.