Russia threatens U.S. allies in Eastern Europe with another unexplained troop buildup ,, the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron completed an six-week bomber task force mission November 15 through the North Sea , Baltics and Black Sea regions, integrating coalition capabilities, and practicing agile Combat Employment
“We’re building an agile combat employment framework with our allies to launch a cohesive force, poised and ready to respond to enemy aggression,” Gen. Jeffrey L. Harigigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa, stated at the end of the mission. The mission saw the integration of fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft and air refuelling by partner countries. It also saw the use of isolated air bases in untraditional areas.
The B-1B bombers and almost 200 support crew flew to RAF Fairford in England for the mission. They used British ranges and flew with a variety Royal Air Force platforms, as well as those from other countries, such as the Turkish KC -135 refuelers, and the Norwegian F -35 Lightning II aircraft. These strategic bombers were also integrated with Canadian, Polish, and Romanian fighters, and helped support the NATO Air Policing mission in Romania.
In the coming days, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III will meet with his Norwegian counterpart Ukrainian . This is as the Pentagon closely monitors Russia’s recent troop buildup close to Ukraine’s border.
“We do continue to see unusual military activity and concentration of forces in Russia, but near Ukrainian borders, and that remains concerning to us,” Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby told reporters Nov. 15. “If you take a look at our exercise program, you will see that our exercises are defensive in nature and are in line with our alliances, and partner commitments within the region .”
The Bomber Task Force Europe mission was previously scheduled but was not directly connected to the buildup.
Kirby stated that the intentions of Russia’s movements were not clear.
” We put out press releases about them. We display photos and videos of them. From the podium, I spoke about them daily. Kirby spoke out about U.S. military exercises, saying that he would even tell Kirby what units were involved, which exercises they will be performing, and what capabilities they will be testing. “There’s been no transparency from the Russian side about this concentration of forces in the western part of their country, and we continue to urge them to be transparent.”
The bomber task force missions concluded with new tactics that allowed for close air support, intercept and escort training, and counter-maritime operations. U.S. Cyber Command protection also was tested, as was the first refueling with the Versatile Integrating Partner Equipment Refueling kit, a simplified new tool for refueling from coalition bases.
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