23rd EBS bids a farewell to Guam
By Senior Airman Ryan Whitney , 36th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 23, 2009
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Members of the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and their six B-52 Stratofortress' are scheduled to return home to Minot, N.D., at the end of February, after completing a five month deployment here.
The 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, comprised of more than 250 Airmen and six B-52 Stratofortress', are deployed to Andersen on a regularly scheduled Air Expeditionary Force rotation from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to maintain U.S. commitment throughout the Pacific region by enhancing response readiness and providing a proficient Global Deterrence capability.
"Andersen's infrastructure is the entering argument for US strategy in the vital Asia-Pacific region," said Brig. Gen. Ruhlman, 36th Wing commander. "Simply stated, we shrink the tyranny of distance for the United States in the Pacific."
According to Lt. Col. Gordon Geissler, 23rd EBS commander, the deployment also offered the men and women of the 23rd an invaluable experience that they couldn't get at Minot.
"This deployment provided a very junior squadron with incredible, unique training opportunities," Colonel Geissler said. "While here, our young aircrew got the opportunity to fly with Allied partners like Japan and Australia, as well as experience the interoperability of working with the U.S. Navy and Marines, which is an experience they couldn't really get back home."
Throughout their deployment, the 23rd EBS successfully launched more than 170 missions and flew more than 1050 hours. This included local sorties and various exercises like COPE NORTH , a bilateral exercise involving U.S. Navy and the Japan Air Self Defense Force, Aces North, a bilateral training exercise involving members of the Australian Fighter Combat instructor Course, and RED FLAG - Alaska, a large force exercise involving units from throughout the United States.
"The exercises we have participated in have given us the chance to integrate the B-52 with our allies, like Australia and Japan, who do not have a large bomber capability, and show them what we bring to the table," the 23rd commander said. "These training exercises also provided a valuable experience dropping large amounts of [ordnance]." Throughout the deployment, the 23rd EBS dropped more than 444,000 lbs. of ordnance.
The unit also had an almost unheard of launch success rate, which was a testament to the hard work of the 36th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, according to Colonel Geissler. "Our success rate up to this point is 98%, which is almost beyond belief," only four missions out of 171 were cancelled due to operational or maintenance reasons throughout the five months.
During their time here, 23rd members volunteered their time in the local communities, such as volunteer work at local schools and Habitat for Humanity, as well as meeting with local leadership throughout Guam and the Armed Forces Association. "The people of Guam have been very kind and friendly anytime we have gone out into the local community, and we appreciate the support that they have given us," He said.
The 13th Bomb squadron and B-2 Spirits from Whiteman Air Force Base, Miss., are scheduled to take over the Global Deterrence mission when the 23rd EBS returns to the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot.
"The advice I have for the arriving unit is to try to get every ounce of training out of the unique opportunities that Andersen provides," said Colonel Geissler.