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The first six B-52 bombers being deployed to Guam are to arrive Sunday at Andersen Air Force Base, the Air Force announced Thursday.

Six B-52 Stratofortresses are to touch down at about 3 p.m. The bombers, plus about 300 personnel from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., are the first to be sent to the island after the U.S. Pacific Command decided to rotate a bomber force here.

The bombers will stay on Guam as long as needed as part of the command’s ongoing force posture adjustment, a news release stated Thursday.

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.”

Col. P.K. White, 36th Air Base Wing commander, stated in Thursday’s news release that “Guam’s location makes it strategically important when it comes to projecting air power in the Pacific.”

The Air Force hasn’t said how long the planes will stay on Guam, but Maj. Dani Johnson, a Minot spokeswoman, has said such deployments typically last three months. If needed, other planes would be sent to replace the Minot bombers, Thursday’s news release stated.

Pacific Command sources said such a continuous bomber presence demonstrates the United States’ commitment to the Western Pacific and provides training opportunities that integrate bombers into Pacific joint and coalition forces. Guam, which hosted bombers during the 2001 attack against Afghanistan, has two two-mile runways, munitions storage and a maintenance squadron to provide ground support.

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