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Global Strike commander talks long-range strike

Long-Range Strike Caucus

Long-Range Strike Caucus

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The commander of Air Force Global Strike Command addressed more than 70 congressional staffers on Capitol Hill April 7, as he discussed the enduring strategic importance of the long-range strike mission during a lunchtime presentation in Washington, D.C.

Quoting Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Lt. Gen. Jim Kowalski said "the art of war is simple enough: find out where your enemy is, get at him as soon as you can, strike him as hard as you can." Bombers deliver that capability to the nation, General Kowalski said.

In his speech to the Congressional Long Range Strike Caucus, the general said commitment to long-range strike capabilities is important to national power.

U.S. Representative Madeleine Bordallo of Guam, a member of the caucus, hosted the event and introduced the general to the audience.

"Long Range Strike is such a critical capability for our nation, it helps us to prevent and deter conflict and aggressors," said the Congresswoman.

In his remarks, General Kowalski said "our commitment to deter, dissuade, assure, and, if needed--fight and win--means our nation must have the forces to respond quickly to a crisis, with the freedom of action to strike the targets of our choosing, on our timeline."

He thanked congressional leaders and encouraged them to continue their efforts to educate others on how the bomber meets the nation's enduring need to project power globally.

The bomber fleet has been effectively employed across the spectrum of U.S. conflicts, said the general, but emerging threats from state and non-state actors underscore the need for a new penetrating bomber.

"Since 1991, our bombers, while maintaining their role as part of the nuclear deterrent triad, have engaged in conventional combat in Operations Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Desert Fox, Desert Strike, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and most recently, Odyssey Dawn," he said.

Bomber forces often struck the enemy at great distance, usually at the far edge of the theater of operations. In many cases, the bombers were launched from U.S. soil, he said, noting the role of B-1s and B-2s in delivering precision Joint Direct Attack Munitions against hardened Libyan aircraft shelters and other targets last month.

Despite these successes, the ability to fly safely through an adversary's airspace will become more challenging in the future due to the technological advancement in air defense and anti-aircraft weapon systems, he said, adding that "our adversaries recognize and are planning against our airpower advantage, both in systems to push back our shorter range aircraft and detect our long-range stealth aircraft."

To respond to these challenges, the general echoed Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, who discussed in March the need to invest in a new penetrating bomber within the Long Range Strike family of systems, saying we must, "provide the President with options to hold any target at risk at any point on the globe."

The new long range penetrating bomber will be nuclear-capable and optionally manned, said the general, able to hold targets at risk, while operating at will within a global threat environment.

The general took several questions from congressional staff and journalists before wrapping up his remarks.

The Congressional Long Range Strike Caucus was established in 2009 to sustain both the land- and sea-based long range strike capabilities.

"It is the goal of this particular caucus...to raise awareness of the importance of this capability and to advocate for the appropriate platforms," said Rep. Bordallo. U.S. Representative John Fleming, from Louisiana, is the other sitting member of the caucus.

Rep. Bordallo's constituents in Guam have hosted what's called the Continuous Bomber Presence rotational force of B-52 and B-2 bombers since 2004 in order to maintain stability and security in the Asia Pacific region in support of U.S. Pacific Command.

Rep. Fleming's home state of Louisiana hosts Air Force Global Strike Command headquarters and one of the nation's two B-52 bomber Wings at Barksdale AFB, outside of Shreveport-Bossier City. The Air Force's other B-52 Wing is at Minot AFB, N.D.