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.”