U.S. Air Force ends continuous bomber presence on Guam

A U.S. Navy MH-60S Knighthawk, U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk, Navy MQ-4C Triton, Air Force B-52 Stratofortress’, and KC-135 Stratotankers stationed at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, perform an "Elephant Walk" April 13, 2020. The Elephant Walk showcases the 36th Wing's readiness and ability to generate combat airpower at a moment's notice to ensure regional stability throughout the Indo-Pacific. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Divine Cox)

The U.S. Air Force announced April 17 that it is ending its 16-year mission to keep strategic bombers in Guam.

Air Force Global Strike Command made the announcement that it is ending the continuous bomber presence mission in favor of forward-deploying bombers in the Indo-Pacific region.

“U.S. strategic bombers will continue to operate in the Indo-Pacific, to include Guam, at the timing and tempo of our choosing,” the command said in a statement.

“We will maximize all opportunities to train alongside our allies and partners to build interoperability and bolster our collective ability to support a free and open Indo-Pacific. We continually reassess our overseas posture and adjust to meet the requirements of the Joint Force and combatant commanders, as well as our treaty commitments,” AFGSC officials said.

The announcement came several days after an impressive show of force by the U.S. Air Force. On April 13, aircraft at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, performed an “elephant walk.”

Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy

The elephant walk included five B-52 Stratofortress bombers, six KC-135 Stratotankers, an MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter, an RQ-4 Global Hawk, and a U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton.

The display showcases the “readiness and ability to generate combat airpower at a moment’s notice,” officials with Pacific Air Forces said.

Transitioning to a “dynamic force employment” concept allows for the Air Force and broader military to be “strategically predictable, and operationally unpredictable” in sending the high-value assets to the Pacific, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said. The Air Force regularly sends similar “bomber task force” rotations to Europe.

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