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The B-ONEs are back: the multi-layered relevance of the current B-1B deployment

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Ryan “Ollie” Stallsworth
  • 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron

It is no exaggeration or surprise to characterize the last year in the B-1B community as dynamic and exhausting.

Consider the sequence of events our team has endured and persevered through: (1) ejection system and drogue chute issues that drove changes in maintenance technical orders and, ultimately, significantly reduced aircraft availability, (2) the reduction of combat squadron sizes, as a result of lower aircraft availability, (3) a revision to flight training to ensure the longevity of the aircraft and (4) re-inventing the presentation of combat forces to combatant commanders through execution of Dynamic Force Employment (DFE).

The B-1 community has confronted and conquered so many challenges over the past year that Air Force senior leaders labelled this time the “B-1 Reset.” Truthfully, it has been a difficult time to lead. However, in the midst of these many challenges, we have persevered and accomplished much.

Airmen from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, have completed multiple Bomber Agile Combat Employment (BACE) experiments, where we practiced projecting combat airpower in the lightest, leanest fashion. We deployed to unfamiliar airfields and operated out of those airfields with a minimal footprint. After each experiment, we learned valuable lessons and applied those lessons to the next iteration.

Team Dyess worked together – B-1s and C-130s – to move people, aircraft parts, and equipment in minimum times. This is the practical execution of DFE: projecting combat power anywhere on the globe in order to be operationally unpredictable while remaining strategically predictable. The Air Force has labeled these bomber DFE events as Bomber Task Forces, or BTFs. BTFs can take the shape of CONUS-to-CONUS missions—as we recently saw with Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, B-1s in the Pacific— or short-term deployments (Dyess AFB currently has four B-1s and approximately 200 Airmen deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam).

The recent BTF at Andersen AFB, Guam scored huge victories on tactical and strategic levels. First, the Dyess BACE experiments appropriately culminated in a real-world BTF. Fittingly, the hard work and lessons learned across Team Dyess were realized in real-world operations. Second, the Andersen AFB deployment was executed within an accelerated planning time; and third, this BTF was the first B-1 BTF in the Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility following the previously described “B-1 Reset.”

This BTF proved the concept that B-1s could quickly deploy and operate halfway across the globe, and now we have shown that the B-1B is back in business providing combatant commanders airpower and desired effects. This is a clear and strong deterrent message to our adversaries, and a reassuring message to our staunch allies and partners.

Conducting these real-world operations and seeing their hard work and training pay-off is why Airmen stay in our great Air Force.

Over the last year, the B-1 community has rebuilt readiness and boosted combat capability. Our aviators, maintenance personnel, and support agencies have crushed it – working long hours with limited resources, to ready the 9th Bomb Squadron, or “The Bats” for war.

Our 9th BS combat mission ready numbers have drastically increased and our readiness was showcased during the BTF. The Bats are proud to have led the charge to get the B-1B on the road again.

The B-1B has a proven history of lethality from the Cold War to the War on Terror, and now she is proving herself once again at the tactical and strategic levels with the next phase of global operations--Bomber Task Force.  Semper Bone!