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Red Devil Stratofortress
A B-52 Stratofortress from the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron sits as a static display for a community relations tour on the flightline of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 12, 2012. With 12 aircraft and more than 80 aviators strong, the 96th EBS supports the U.S. Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence and provides persistent airpower to large, multinational military exercises in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos/Released)
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Red Devils take on Pacific CBP

Posted 11/1/2012   Updated 11/1/2012 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
36th Wing Public Affairs

11/1/2012 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Airmen from the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron "Red Devils," Barksdale Air Force Base, La., arrived here Oct. 2, in support of the Continuous Bomber Presence, taking the place of the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron who returned home to Minot Air Force Base, N.D.

The CBP is an ongoing effort by U.S. Pacific Command to show the United States' commitment to the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. The bomber squadrons deploy here on a rotational basis, providing a flexible response capability.

"We aim to showcase the B-52 Stratofortress' capabilities to our allies and prove that the B-52 remains capable of employing a gamut of kinetic weaponry, from long-range cruise missiles to guided and unguided gravity weapons," said Lt. Col. John Bleil, 96th EBS director of operations. "The B-52 can do it all and switch rapidly between roles."

The bombers have been on rotation for more than eight years, providing PACOM a prudent enemy deterrence and reassuring regional allies with a strong U.S. military presence.

As part of the CBP, the 96th EBS has a key role in supporting PACOM's basic priorities, recently outlined by Navy Adm. Samuel Locklear III, PACOM commander. Strengthening and advancing alliances and partnerships, remaining prepared to respond to a Korean peninsula contingency, and countering transnational threat are three among the five basic PACOM priorities that the CBP directly supports.

"The best part about having B-52s in the region is that it can carry a wide array of weapons in large quantities," said Capt. Kera Rolsen, 96th EBS weapons and tactics flight commander. "Combine those two capabilities with a long-range strike capability and you have a lethal and accurate combination that a fighter aircraft can't provide."

With over 80 aviators in support of the CBP mission, the 96th EBS is ready to take part and provide persistent airpower in large, multinational military exercises in the Pacific.

"I'm definitely looking forward to participating in the exercises," said Captain Rolsen. "In this deployment, the 96th EBS will be participating in Exercise COPE NORTH 2013, and it will be my third time participating in this event."

"I personally look forward to flying with our allies in the Pacific," she continued. "I'm excited to introduce the newer members of the squadron to the unique and challenging nature of large-force exercises."

Guam's location provides units with training areas that test the units' aviation skills and weapons skills.

"Guam provides Air Force Global Strike Command bombers with good training opportunities as well as a way to provide deterrence in theater," said Captain Rolsen. "Being able to go to a different airfield allows our aviators to practice their skills at unfamiliar fields and airspace. All this, challenging weather included, increases our squadron's combat edge."

During this deployment, they aim to exercise their capabilities as well as promote growth as a squadron and individual aviators.

Captain Rolsen said that she is expecting to see the new crewmembers mature as combat aviators, the older crewmembers to grow tactically, and see the squadron expand in skill and combat knowledge.

The 96th EBS has been to Guam numerous times in support of the CBP, but as they get accustomed to the island this time around, the aviators plan to take advantage of being in close proximity to other U.S. services, along with the opportunity to work on aviation and combat concepts.

"Being based here on Guam, along with Navy, Marine Corps and Air Combat Command aviators, provides unmatched training opportunities that are normally only available during Red Flag exercises," said Colonel Bleil. "The face-to-face operations coordination is fantastic training for our new Red Devils and an effective way to improve our capabilities as a combat aviation squadron and a cogent fighting force."

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