A B-52H Stratofortress assigned to the 2nd Bomb Wing takes off from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Sept. 25, 2020.

A B-52H Stratofortress assigned to the 2nd Bomb Wing takes off from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Sept. 25, 2020. (Jacob Wrightsman/U.S. Air Force)

A task force of four B-52H Stratofortress bombers has arrived at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, part of an ongoing demonstration by the Air Force of its ability to move strategic assets around the globe.

The planes, from the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., will operate in the Indo-Pacific and support Pacific Air Forces’ training efforts with joint forces and partners, the Air Force said in a statement Saturday.

The 2nd Bomb Wing last deployed B-52s to Guam in February. It’s unclear how long the current deployment will last.

The Air Force last year ended its 15-year practice of keeping a continuous bomber presence on Guam in favor of a less-predictable deployment system using bomber task forces. The change aligned with the 2018 National Defense Strategy’s call for strategic unpredictability.

Bomber task force missions help “maintain global stability and security while enabling units to become familiar with operations in different regions,” according to the Air Force.

Bombers flying from Guam project U.S. airpower in a region where China is flexing its increased military strength. In the South China Sea, for example, the United States has conducted regular operations challenging Chinese territorial claims over international waters.

The State Department in July formally rejected China’s claims to islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

“The Air Force is currently working in a complex, dynamic, and sometimes volatile global security environment,” 2nd Bomb Wing commander Col. Mark Dmytryszyn said in the statement. “It is our charge to regularly conduct these joint and combined security cooperation engagements across different Geographic Combatant Commands and their areas of operation.”

Bomber task forces based in the U.S. deploy cyclically to Guam. Adversaries “watch us come and go,” Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach said in a Sept. 9 call with reporters.

Last year, the Air Force rotated B-52s, B-1 Lancers and B-2 Spirit bombers through Guam, putting them to work on exercises with the Navy and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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