Coming as a likely surprise to US enemies and rivals at a moment regional tensions with China are once again on the rise, and just days after a major aircraft "elephant walk" show of force was conducted at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam, the Air Force has announced it will end its continues bomber presence in Guam.
This ends an ongoing bomber rotation since 2004, as The Drive reports: "Five B-52H Stratofortresses left yesterday with no replacement aircraft in place, bringing an end to what the service had called the Continuous Bomber Presence Mission."
A US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) statement confirmed the bombers are now to be "permanently based in the United States" after returning to American soil.
"In line with the National Defense Strategy, the United States has transitioned to an approach that enables strategic bombers to operate forward in the Indo-Pacific region from a broader array of overseas locations, when required, and with greater operational resilience, while these bombers are permanently based in the United States," STRATCOM said.
"U.S. strategic bombers will continue to operate in the Indo-Pacific, to include Guam, at the timing and tempo of our choosing," the statement added.
Our diverse bomber fleet – B-52, B-1 & B-2 – allows us to respond to global events anytime, anywhere. Whether they’re launched from Louisiana, Guam, or the U.K., long-range strategic bombers have and will remain a bedrock of our deterrence! #DynamicForceEmployment pic.twitter.com/2dQmcNGOmw— US Strategic Command (@US_Stratcom) April 16, 2020
Per Air Force Magazine, a major adjustment was expected:
The last deployment ended April 16, just three days after the elephant walk, as B-52s returned to Minot Air Force Base, N.D. The long-expected change comes as service leaders, including Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Air Force Global Strike Command boss Gen. Timothy Ray have said dynamic deployments of task force-size groups of bombers will be more effective in the future.
“Yes, we are absolutely adjusting our presence in theater when it comes to bombers,” Goldfein said April 1.
A separate STRATCOM statement late this week additionally said the bomber fleet allows the US to "respond to global events anytime, anywhere".
USAF B-52Hs SEEYA01, 02, 03, 04 & 05 departed Andersen AFB, Guam en route home to Minot AFB, North Dakota. pic.twitter.com/woOBYDT8fq— Aircraft Spots (@AircraftSpots) April 16, 2020
"Our diverse bomber fleet – B-52, B-1 & B-2 – allows us Whether they’re launched from Louisiana, Guam, or the U.K., long-range strategic bombers have and will remain a bedrock of our deterrence!" - the statement posted on Twitter said.