For the first time since the end of Cold War in 1991, the U.S. Air Force is preparing to put its nuclear-capable B-52 bombers on 24-hour alert.
Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff, made the revelation during his six-day tour of Barksdale and other U.S. Air Force bases that support the nuclear mission.
“This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared. I look at it more as not planning for any specific event, but more for the reality of the global situation we find ourselves in and how we ensure we’re prepared going forward,” said Goldfein.
The chief of staff also added that as of this moment there is no alert order but all preparations are being made in case it comes. He also asked his team to think of innovative ways a nuclear weapon can be used, either for deterrence or combat.
“The world is a dangerous place and we've got folks that are talking openly about use of nuclear weapons. It's no longer a bipolar world where it's just us and the Soviet Union. We've got other players out there who have nuclear capability. It's never been more important to make sure that we get this mission right,” he said.
According to the order, B-52s armed with nuclear weapons will be seen at the Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. The base is also being refurbished to allow the bombers to “take off at a moment's notice.”
The final decision on the alert order will be given by Gen. John Hyten, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, or Gen. Lori Robinson, the head of U.S. Northern Command.
Sleeping areas of the B-52 crew members are also being renovated. Inside, beds are being installed and storage facilities are also being built to store a new nuclear cruise missile that is under development.
According to Defense One, two nuclear command planes will visit the base occasionally and in time of a nuclear war launch codes would be transmitted through them.
“Our job is options. We provide best military advice and options for the commander in chief and the secretary of defense. Should the STRATCOM commander require or the NORTHCOM commander require us to [be on] a higher state of readiness to defend the homeland, then we have to have a place to put those forces,” said Goldfein.
The move comes after mounting tensions between United States and North Korea and Russia.
At the United Nations, President Donald Trump issued a vile threat to the hermit kingdom at the world stage and said that the United States will be forced to “totally destroy” North Korea unless Pyongyang backs down from its nuclear challenge, mocking North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as a “rocket man” on a suicide mission.
U.S.-Russia relations also took an unpleasant turn as U.S. intelligence agencies accused Russia of meddling in the U.S. presidential election. Moscow, however, has continuously denied the allegations. Tensions between the two countries are also at a crucial point in Syria, where United States and Russia are backing different forces that are scrambling to claim what is left of Islamic State-held territory.
The US Airforce has put nuclear armed bombers on 24-hour ready alert. This hasn’t been done since the Cold War ended back in 1991— Daniel ?? (@thatsdantastic) October 23, 2017
Spotlight, Banner: Reuters, Kim Hong-Ji