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Prairie Vigilance 16: Anytime, Anywhere

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class J.T. Armstrong
  • Public Affairs
The 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, participated in Prairie Vigilance 16-1 Sept. 11-16, an annual exercise designed to test the wing’s ability to conduct conventional and nuclear-capable bomber operations.

“Prairie Vigilance 16-1 is an operational readiness exercise that validates the 5th Bomb Wing's capability to execute our assigned missions,” Col. Matthew Brooks, 5th BW commander, said. “The exercise ensures our Airmen and B-52s maintain the highest state of combat readiness and demonstrates that the wing can respond to emerging strategic threats anytime and anywhere in the world.”

Approximately 3,500 Airmen from across the wing demonstrated safe, secure, reliable nuclear-capable weapons standards and procedures during the weapons generations and fly off.

“Airmen from the 5th Bomb Wing were tasked to demonstrate our nuclear [capable] tasking without prior notification or coordination,” Col. Douglas Warnock, 5th Operations Group commander, said. “The exercise was originally scheduled for next week, but by starting a week early, it gave our Airmen the opportunity to clearly exhibit their abilities and nuclear prowess.”

According to Warnock, exercises like Prairie Vigilance provide the opportunity for bomber Airmen to train like they would fight, learning from mistakes and adding to their expertise and skillset. Team Minot is entrusted with the substantial day-to-day responsibility of keeping a well maintained and secure nuclear-capable bomber force, so when called upon, the mission is executed flawlessly.

“As long as nuclear [capable] weapons exist, there is no mission more important than maintaining the nation's nuclear capability and ensuring strategic deterrence and assurance,” Warnock said. “That deterrence is strengthened by the men and women of Minot AFB demonstrating their capability to execute their nuclear [capable] tasking at a moment's notice when we are called upon by the President and combatant commanders.”

As one leg of U.S. Strategic Command’s nuclear triad, Air Force Global Strike Command’s B-52s at Minot play integral role in the nation's strategic deterrence.

“Our nation relies on a highly-credible and capable strategic bomber force,” Brooks said. “Prairie Vigilance demonstrates that the 5th Bomb Wing maintains that capability and credibility, ensuring the American public that we stand ready to execute our assigned missions.”

The exercise concluded with a rapid fly-off, successfully launching a sequence of 12 B-52s to showcase their active capability to execute the mission.

“I'm extremely proud of the Warbird's performance this week, and I have no doubt in their commitment to Minot's nuclear mission and our abilities to execute,” Warnock said.