The bomber rotations to Andresen, AFB, Guam have “done several things,” Brig. Gen. Timothy Ray, operations director for Air Force Global Strike Command, said in a recent interview. They give crews the “chance to deploy forward and focus on a particular area of responsibility, to fly conventional missions and long-range strike missions, support a combatant commander, integrate with joint partners, and participate in larger exercises,” he said. Because Guam is a deployed environment, crews and maintainers can really focus intensely on training and flying their aircraft, added Ray. Global Strike Command and Pacific Air Forces officials are trying to ensure the deployments create a “readiness bounce, not a tax,” he said. PACAF has allowed AFGSC to keep training for nuclear mission profiles while its bombers are on Guam, to keep up crewmembers’ skills and proficiencies. “You are not flying combat missions,” like you would be in the US Central Command region, but “here you can train,” said Ray. Many flight skills are applicable to both nuclear and conventional missions, and allowing crews to ingrain and sharpen those skills in a deployed environment means less “spin up” when they return home, he said. “The idea is to work a win-win experience between PACAF and our crews and maintainers,” said Ray.
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.