The 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., has added 260 aircraft maintainers to its ranks since 2009 to help take care of its aging B-1 bombers and increase their availability rates. “The changes we made have all been positive,” said Gen. William Fraser, Air Combat Command boss, when discussing this issue during his visit to Ellsworth last week. He added, “I think we’re on the right path and once we get all of the ‘faces in the spaces,’ then get the people trained, I have no doubt that we’ll see a positive trend [to] increase aircraft availability.” B-1s continue to be stressed by a high operational tempo, including frequent deployments to Southwest Asia to support operations in Afghanistan. They have been a workhorse in the war theater, providing armed overwatch. (Ellsworth report by TSgt. Nathan Gallahan)
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.