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Barksdale aircrews train beside international partners

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Pilots flying a B-52H from Barksdale Air Force Base, La. receive fuel from a New Hampshire Air National Guard KC-135R April 2, 2015, near the eastern coast of Canada. The B-52H was returning home after supporting a U.S. Strategic Command-directed mission to the Arctic and North Sea regions called "Polar Growl.” The mission was to provide a flexible and visible signal that highlights the U.S. ability to deter strategic attacks and respond to any potential future crisis or challenge. (New Hampshire Air National Guard photo by Airman Ashlyn J. Correia)

Story by Senior Airman Benjamin Raughton, 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE — Two B-52 Stratofortresses from the 2nd Bomb Wing here and 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, N.D., completed simultaneous, roundtrip sorties from their U.S. bases to the Arctic and North Sea regions, respectively, April 2, 2015.

The training mission, called POLAR GROWL, allowed the aircrews to improve navigation skills and their ability to work with Allied partners, while demonstrating U.S. Strategic Command capacity.

The aircrew that launched from Barksdale Air Force Base comprised both Active Duty and Reserve Airmen working together.

“This is a great Total Force Enterprise mission bringing unparalleled experience to reserve aircrew operating in conjunction with active duty aircrew while demonstrating interoperability and readiness to our Allies around the world,” said Lt. Col. Robert Burgess, 343rd Bomb Squadron commander. “TFE is a way to bring the smallest, oldest and busiest Air Force together to maintain the capabilities necessary for demands of today’s operational tempos.”

Aircrews maintain the capabilities necessary to meet operational demands while participating in a mission on a global scale.

“These flights, demonstrating the credible and flexible ability of our strategic bomber force in internationally-recognized flight information regions, are the culmination of months of planning and coordination,” said Adm. Cecil Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander. “They are one of many ways we demonstrate interoperability, compliance with national and international protocols and due regard for the safety of all aircraft sharing the air space.”

Each of the two legs of POLAR GROWL provided unique training opportunities, all while testing the bomber force’s command and control apparatus’ ability to support two synchronized flight paths. The bomber crews flying the North Sea route participated in dissimilar air intercept maneuvers with fighter aircraft flown by the Royal Canadian Air Force, the U.K.’s Royal Air Force and the Royal Netherlands Air Force. In addition to conducting dissimilar air intercept maneuvers with Royal Canadian Air Force fighters, bomber crews on the Arctic leg of the mission transited around the North Pole, providing the crews invaluable training in polar navigation.

“This mission demonstrates the readiness of Air Force Reserve Command’s traditional reserve aircrew to support USSTRATCOM taskings with limited notice under the construct of the Total Force Enterprise and provide credible deterrence to our adversaries around the world,” said Lt. Col. Robert Burgess, 343rd Bomb Squadron commander. “The continued training with our active duty counterparts has proven invaluable to adding more capabilities and readiness to our nation’s defense.”

The mission highlights not only the 2nd and 307th Bomb Wings carrying out USSTRATCOM taskings, but larger-scale interoperability with allies worldwide.

“This type of training ensures we are ready to respond to any and all unforeseeable mission directive across the globe,” said Maj. Nathan Barnhart, 343rd Bomb Squadron instructor radar navigator.

The U.S. regularly conducts combined training and theater security cooperation engagements with Allies and partners. The combined training provided in POLAR GROWL follows the participation of B-52s in NATO Exercise NOBLE JUSTIFICATION in October 2014 and the deployment of B-52s and B-2s to RAF Fairford, U.K., in June 2014, both of which provided occasions to train alongside U.S. Allies and partners.

The B-52 Stratofortress is capable of delivering large payload of precision nuclear or conventional ordnance over long ranges, while also providing decision makers the ability to rapidly project military power and generate decisive effects.

For more information, contact the USSTRATCOM Public Affairs Office at 402-294-4130 or PA@stratcom.mil, or visit www.stratcom.mil.

Information in this article is provided by Offutt Air Force Base Public Affairs.