Andersen welcomes new B-52s in swap
Andersen Air Force Base is welcoming new bombers from the United States as part of an effort to maintain a continuing bomber presence on Guam.
Two B-52 Stratofortresses from the 96th Bomb Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., arrived Tuesday night, according to a base news release.
Six planes and 300 personnel are expected at Andersen by week’s end, 2nd Lt. Genieve David, an Andersen spokeswoman, said Wednesday.
The forces are the second bombers in a rotation to deploy to Guam since the Pacific Command decided earlier this year to maintain a temporary bomber presence on the island. They replaced six B-52s and 300 personnel from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., which arrived in February and began leaving Tuesday afternoon, officials said.
It’s not known how long the bombers will stay this time, officials said in the release, noting that similar deployments have averaged about 90 days.
“If Pacific Command still requires a rotational bomber force on Guam once it is time for the Barksdale [Air Force Base] unit to return, other bomber forces will deploy to Guam to take its place,” the release stated.
It cited PACOM sources as saying the continuous bomber presence is aimed at enhancing regional security, demonstrating the U.S. commitment to the Western Pacific and providing training opportunities that integrate bombers into joint and coalition forces in the theater.
The Associated Press, citing unnamed Pentagon officials, reported in late January that the bombers would be deployed to Guam and elsewhere in the Pacific to “offset a loss of combat power as thousands of American soldiers and Marines in that region depart for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“Andersen has a proud bomber history and it’s our improving infrastructure and strong community support that continues to make it a prime location to deploy forces to as needed,” Col. P.K. White, the 36th Wing commander at Andersen, said in the release.