Number One Priority

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. John Nichols
  • 37th Bomb Squadron director of operations
As Ellsworth Airmen, we know the 28th Bomb Wing is capable of successfully mobilizing and deploying to any place on earth -- we've demonstrated this fact numerous times during six years of nearly steady-state combat operations. 

Unfortunately, we stumbled during our recent ACC Phase One Operational Readiness Inspection. The challenges facing Ellsworth during the inspection were real -- reductions in manpower, a lack of aircraft parts, an unresponsive supply system, and an aging airframe -- but some of our write-ups were self-induced. Focused effort and leadership at all levels in our wing with the support of Air Combat Command will help correct the problem areas and position ourselves for success in the coming months.
As we prepare for the Inspector General's revisit, let us never forget the critically important role the Inspector General is here to certify -- our wing's role in the Global War on Terror. 

The mission of the US Air Force is to deliver sovereign options for the defense of our country and our interests abroad -- in short, to fly, flight, and win. The 28th Bomb Wing directly contributes to this mission with lethal B-1 airpower and through the efforts of combat Airmen deployed around the globe. Every day, B-1s orbit the skies of Iraq and Afghanistan to deter, dissuade, and when necessary, defeat America's enemies. 

The enemies of this country are numerous, extremely committed to their goals and many are willing to die for their cause. Al Qaeda leadership has publicly announced their desire to destroy our country and our way life. World-wide terrorist organizations, such as Al Qaeda, represent a "thinking" enemy that constantly adapts its tactics to counteract our speed, agility, and innovation.

Despite the efforts of our adversaries, the B-1 remains one of the best options available to the Combined Forces Air Component Commander. 

The B-1 has become the premier strike aircraft in U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility. The ability to accurately employ a wide range of weapons in all weather conditions, to fly long duration missions over the battlespace, to rapidly dash to any hotspot in country while also providing non-kinetic effects, such as a "low-level" show of force, makes the B-1 an attractive option for the combatant commander. In my opinion, no other platform provides as much capability in the context of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom as the "Bone." It's our number one option for the defense of America. 

Just as our enemy adapts, we too innovate, improve, and refine our combat tactics, techniques and procedures. One such example is the Sniper XR Advanced Targeting Pod to our already lethal platform. This targeting pod allows B-1 aircrews to conduct positive identification, compute coordinates for weapons employment and downlink video to Joint  Terminal Air Controllers thus ensuring both parties are operating on the "same sheet of music." In simple terms, the targeting pod dramatically improves the B-1's overall combat capability. This upgrade, and other future modifications, showcase the Air Force's ability to research and develop cutting-edge equipment capabilities, now and in the future, helping the B-1 remain a viable weapon in the Global War on Terror. 

Our ability to deploy and employ the "Mighty Bone" is critical to the defense of America. It's a sovereign option made available to the combatant commander through the efforts of the men and women of the 28th Bomb Wing. Let's never lose focus of the fact that winning the global war on terrorism is our number one priority.