The Air Force is close to implementing a new policy under which bomber units capable of both conventional and nuclear strike missions, such as B-52 squadrons, would be assigned responsibility solely for the latter during extended intervals, the service’s top general said Feb. 28. “I think you will see us pull that string here shortly,” Gen. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff, told reporters Feb. 28 in Washington, D.C. Under the plan, these units would train exclusively for nuclear strikes during a period of six to 12 months, Moseley said. Thereafter, they would be assigned to STRATCOM solely for nuclear missions and not mixed roles, as has been the case during their air and space expeditionary force rotations. “I believe that we need to somehow allow the squadron commander to focus on that [mission] and that alone,” he said. “I think this is the way to do this.” This change is one of many resulting from the August 2007 “Bent Spear” incident during which a B-52 inadvertently flew six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles from North Dakota to Louisiana. Moseley said the three reviews of the incident resulted in 128 recommendations. Of those, four fall outside of the Air Force’s purview. Of the remaining 124, 53 have been instituted and the remaining 71 are coming to closure, he said and added that he considers this a “very serious” issue.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.