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Air Force Global Strike Command year in review: 2019

Three B-52 Stratofortresses deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., fly a sortie in support of U.S. Strategic Command’s Bomber Task Force in Europe over Norway, March 28, 2019. Forward locations, like RAF Fairford, England where the B-52s are deployed, enable collective defense capabilities and provide the U.S. and NATO the strategic and operational breadth needed to deter adversaries and assure allies and partners.

Three B-52 Stratofortresses deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., fly a sortie in support of U.S. Strategic Command’s Bomber Task Force in Europe over Norway, March 28, 2019. Forward locations, like RAF Fairford, England where the B-52s are deployed, enable collective defense capabilities and provide the U.S. and NATO the strategic and operational breadth needed to deter adversaries and assure allies and partners.

A U.S. Air Force 509th Bomb Wing B-2 Spirit is flanked by two United Kingdom Royal Air Force F-35 Lightning IIs during a Bomber Task Force training exercise over England, Aug. 29, 2019.

A U.S. Air Force 509th Bomb Wing B-2 Spirit is flanked by two United Kingdom Royal Air Force F-35 Lightning IIs during a Bomber Task Force training exercise over England, Aug. 29, 2019. The BTF consists of Airmen and support equipment from the 509th BW, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, deployed to The U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa to conduct theater integration and flying training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Castelan)

Gen. Tim Ray, Air Force Global Strike Command commander, discusses “Global Strike – The Critical Competitive Edge” during the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 17, 2019. From engaging speakers and panels focused on airpower, space, and cyber developments, to the technology exposition featuring the latest technology, equipment, and solutions for tomorrow’s problems, the conference has something for everyone. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy L. Mosier)

Gen. Tim Ray, Air Force Global Strike Command commander, discusses “Global Strike – The Critical Competitive Edge” during the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 17, 2019. From engaging speakers and panels focused on airpower, space, and cyber developments, to the technology exposition featuring the latest technology, equipment, and solutions for tomorrow’s problems, the conference has something for everyone. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy L. Mosier)

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 1:13 a.m. Pacific Time, Oct. 2, 2019, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The test demonstrates the United States’ nuclear deterrent is robust, flexible, ready and approximately tailored to deter twenty-first century threats and reassure our allies. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. J.T. Armstrong)

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 1:13 a.m. Pacific Time Oct. 2, 2019, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The test demonstrates the United States’ nuclear deterrent is robust, flexible, ready and approximately tailored to deter twenty-first century threats and reassure our allies. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. J.T. Armstrong)

Global Strike Challenge 2019

The 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, took home the Blanchard Trophy for Best ICBM Wing in Global Strike Command during the 2019 Global Strike Challenge. Trophies were awarded during a scoreposting event Nov. 20 at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tessa B. Corrick)

MH-139A

Gen. Timothy Ray, Air Force Global Strike Command commander, gives thumbs up after disembarking his first ride in the MH-139A Grey Wolf with Col. Michael Jiru, Air Force Materiel Command. The Grey Wolf was unveiled and named during the ceremony at Duke Field, Fla., Dec. 19, 2019. (U.S Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

BARKSDALE AFB, La. --

Whether it was 24/7 ICBM alert operations ensuring the cornerstone of national security, Bomber Task Force deployments showcasing long-range strike capabilities, strong community support or the efforts of Airmen around the command, 2019 was a year filled with innovation, firsts, new records and milestones achieved for Air Force Global Strike Command.

“It has been a great year for our command,” said Gen. Tim Ray, AFGSC commander. “Strikers, you are a special group of people and I am proud of you. Thank you for all that you’ve done and continue to do to protect our great nation. You all play a vital role in the success of our command.”

Throughout 2019 the various components of the command made their capabilities known to the world, illustrating the excellence, teams and people that make long-range precision strike possible.

Over the course of the year, AFGSC conducted four “Glory Trips,” operational and developmental test launches of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The missile wing Airmen conducting these tests were key in validating the reliability and security of the weapons systems our nation, allies and partners rely on.

With a continuous no-fail mission, 20th Air Force took steps to bolster its capability to support such requirements with a Total Force solution. For the first time in the 60-year history of ICBM force, a Reserve Airman completed a 24-hour alert mission Oct. 26 at a Missile Alert Facility at Minot AFB, North Dakota.

In regards to providing security and support to those same missile fields, December would hold the naming ceremony of the MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter, which will replace the UH-1N Huey in the upcoming years. The Grey Wolf was also the first major acquisition for the command.

Eighth Air Force’s bomber operations would see just as much activity this past year.  

Royal Air Force Fairford, England, welcomed three Bomber Task Force deployments to the European theater, showcasing AFGSC’s capability to conduct bomber operations from a forward operating location in support of U.S. Air Forces Europe and U.S. European Command mission objectives.

Bomber Task Forces missions were also conducted in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, with B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, conducting a no-notice deployment to Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, and B-52H Stratofortresses assigned to the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron conducting joint exercises with the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group.

Additional bomber training exercises comprised of B-52Hs conducting simultaneous training flights in the EUCOM and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command areas of responsibility, and Airmen from Dyess AFB, Texas, completing a Bomber Agile Combat Employment exercise at Naval Air Station Forth Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas.

While 2019 marked a number of firsts, the year also held several major anniversaries.

Whiteman AFB, Missouri, commemorated the 30th anniversary of the B-2 Spirit’s inaugural test flight on July 17, 1989, from Palmdale, California, to Edwards AFB, California. Since then the stealth bomber has been a vital component of America’s national defense.

The following month in August, AFGSC celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the activation of the command. For a decade now AFGSC has provided combat-ready forces that enable strategic nuclear deterrence, a feat that would not be possible without the hard work and effort of the Airmen and civilians throughout the command.

That same hard work would culminate in both competition and awards across the command, with Airmen exhibiting what it means to be a Striker.

Whiteman AFB became the first base to win U.S. Strategic Command’s Omaha Trophy in back-to-back years for their role in global operations and strategic deterrence, while the 320th Missile Squadron at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, won the General Samuel C. Phillips award as the best overall Missile Squadron.

AFGSC also hosted the biennial Global Strike Challenge, the world’s premier bomber, intercontinental ballistic missile, helicopter operations and maintenance and security forces competition. This year the 2nd Bomb Wing from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, won the Fairchild Trophy for the best bomb wing, while the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, won the Blanchard Trophy for the best ICBM wing.

Showcasing personal excellence, Maj. Amy Natalini with Eighth Air Force was recognized as the Air Force top female athlete of the year.

Not only were AFGSC Airmen exceptional at their jobs, these Airmen also stepped in when others in the community needed them the most.

Airmen from Malmstrom AFB jumped into action to free a civilian who had been trapped in her vehicle after a rollover incident near the base. In another instance, Malmstrom Airmen helped a civilian escape from a snow storm near Denton, Montana. Meanwhile in Abilene, Texas, a technical sergeant performed CPR on a child in an apartment complex swimming pool, saving the child’s life.

From Glory Trips to Bomber Task Force missions, 2019 was one for the books. 

“2019 was an outstanding and very busy year for Air Force Global Strike Command,” Ray said. “The success of this command is built on the hard work and efforts of every Airman and civilian across AFGSC. Our team continues to take on multiple challenges, successfully delivering on every mission that we support. There will be even more to accomplish in 2020, but here’s to 2019.”