The Global Bomber Presence

The nuclear-capable B-52 Stratofortress and B-2 Spirit “will continue to be the forces provided” to US Strategic Command, but officials are still trying to determine how the conventional-only B-1 will fit into the mix after it transitions to Air Force Global Strike Command on Monday, 8th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic) Commander Maj. Gen. Richard Clark told Air Force Magazine. Those discussions are taking place between the “highest levels of the Air Force” and the combatant commands, he added. “How those forces are provided will continue as it stands until a different decision is made, if a different decision is made.” All three forces already are stretched “very thin,” with the B-1s supporting the anti-ISIS fight in Iraq and Syria, the B-52s rotating to Guam in support of the Air Force’s continuous bomber presence mission there, and the B-2s also conducting assurance and deterrence missions, said Clark. “We have to be smart about how we manage that global bomber presence. It’s something we’re taking a hard look at right now, but it’s hard to say how we’re going to manage that [long-term] right now,” he said. Clark said he “fully expects” the transition to bring some long-term “adjustments” to bomber tactics, techniques, and procedures, but it’s too early to say what. “As we garner lessons learned from each other there very well may be things we do differently to try to enhance our training so we are better able to deliver the firepower the commander needs,” he said. “I don’t know exactly where those will be, but certain opportunity will present itself to the entire community.”