US, partners conduct Middle East BTF through air, land and sea

Written by: Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central)
A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress, assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, approaches a KC-10 Extender assigned to the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for air refueling support, during a Bomber Task Force mission, over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, Sept. 4, 2022. The bombers’ flight originated at Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford, England, and flew over the Eastern Mediterranean, Arabian Peninsula and Red Sea before departing the region showcasing the strategic capability U.S. bombers provide in helping maintain stability in the USCENTCOM theater. U.S. Air Force photos I Staff Sgt. Shannon Bowman

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar – United States ground and naval units, as well as coalition and regional partner air forces executed a Bomber Task Force mission across the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, Sept. 4, 2022.

During the BTF, two B-52H Stratofortresses, assigned to the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command, conducted theater integration training and operations with a variety of U.S. Air Force, partner and ally aircraft, including F-15/18, RJ-135, E-3, KC-135/10/46, FGR-4, and A-330. BTF missions demonstrate readiness, enhance mission preparation and maximize our collective coalition strengths while building trust within the USCENTCOM AOR.

“This Bomber Task Force is a strong, clear representation of enduring U.S. commitment to the region,” said Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, 9th Air Force (Air Forces Central) commander. “In addition to maintaining a sufficient, sustainable force posture, AFCENT is able—in concert with our partners—to rapidly inject overwhelming combat power into the region on demand. Threats to the U.S. and our partners will not go unanswered. Missions like this BTF showcase our ability to combine forces to deter and, if necessary, defeat our adversaries.”

The bombers’ flight originated at Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford, England, and flew over the Eastern Mediterranean, Arabian Peninsula and Red Sea before departing the region. The mission included fighter escorts from the Royal Air Force and the Air Forces of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Senior National Representatives (SNR) of 16 coalition nations, led by the Canadian SNR, Royal Canadian Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Terry Wong, enhanced logistical support for this BTF iteration. The combined coalition operation heightens regional stability and security capabilities to remain postured and ready to defend U.S., coalition and allied forces and interests in the region.

“Communication is critical,” said Wong, who also serves as the Deputy Director of Combat Operations, Combined Air Operations Center. “By enhancing lines of communication, we are able to establish a clear and direct line in real time amongst the Air Operations Centers of all nations participating. This allows us to work towards a common goal and leads to mission success.”

In addition to the air integration during the BTF, units from Army Central simulated firepower from the ground. This collaboration allowed Army and Air Force entities to practice safe and effective joint fires employment. The U.S. does not seek conflict but continues to be postured and committed to respond to any contingency in the USCENTCOM AOR.

“This kind of operation demonstrates the collective capabilities of the military partnership we’ve developed in the Middle East,” said Army GEN Michael “Erik” Kurilla, Commander of USCENTCOM. “We have the ability to put a significant measure of combat power in the air alongside our partners very quickly. We can do the same on the ground and at sea.”
The last Bomber Task Force mission in the Middle East was in June 2022. CENTCOM has facilitated four BTF missions in 2022 as a demonstration of U.S. commitment to our partners and the peaceful stability in the region.

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