Military News

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Exercise tests command's deterrent capabilities

by Carla Pampe
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

5/13/2015 - BARKSDALE AFB, La. -- Air Force Global Strike Command bomb wings participated in a major exercise this month, demonstrating the command's flexibility and global reach while testing its tactics, techniques, and procedures.

Airmen from Headquarters, Eighth Air Force and the 2d Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, and 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, honed their skills in planning and generating aircraft in surge operations during the command's Constant Vigilance exercise May 4-13.

An annual AFGSC exercise, Constant Vigilance is designed to train and assess the command's ability to perform its conventional and nuclear missions. Using notional scenarios, command and control elements and operational units effectively demonstrated AFGSC's ability to perform nuclear deterrence operations and long-range strike missions if and when called upon to do so.

"The exercise offers AFGSC units the ability to hone their nuclear deterrence skills," said Robert Thomson, AFGSC's Exercise Division chief. "Only with continual, robust and realistic training can we ensure our units are prepared and ready for this vital mission set."

Training and participation in exercises such as Constant Vigilance are critical to Air Force Global Strike Command's ability to respond quickly and effectively to real-world situations.

"It provides an opportunity to practice our number one priority mission and gives our Airmen the opportunity to learn and build experience, while allowing us to further hone our procedures as an integrated unit," said Col. David Benson, 509th Operations Group commander. "While providing that invaluable experience for our Airmen, it instills confidence that we can execute our primary mission."

Benson said the exercise provides a precious opportunity to train with operational command and control in the lead.

"Nuclear Operational C2 procedures are developed to be very secure for obvious reasons.  However, this forces detailed and more complicated communication procedures than normal, conventional C2," he said. "It is critical to practice these procedures during exercises like Constant Vigilance so that critical nuclear C2 is ready and able when called upon."

For members of Eighth Air Force's 608th Air Operations Center,  608th Strategic Operations Squadron and Task Force 204, Constant Vigilance was an opportunity to exercise their mission of quickly providing combatant commanders with kinetic and non-kinetic capabilities to achieve strategic effects.

"Participating in CV helps our wings by improving our collective muscle memory. It is comparable to knowing how to prepare (and ultimately perform) a physical training evaluation and then actually preparing and performing the evaluation," said Master Sgt. Joshua Craig, a cruise missile manager with the 608th STOS and TF 204. "By participating in CV the wings ensure our forces are ready to perform nuclear deterrence operations and long-range strike missions if and when called upon to do so."

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