BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
More than 400 Airmen returned to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., after a six-month deployment to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, March 20-21.
While deployed, Barksdale Airmen joined U.S. Air Forces Central Command in the mission to defeat and ultimately destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorist group through mutual support of regional forces.
Since September, Barksdale Airmen and B-52 Stratofortresses have dropped more than 2,500 weapons, totaling approximately 2.5 million pounds, and executed more than 2,000 airstrikes against ISIS.
“We generated over 440 combat sorties, which was great, aided by our outstanding aircraft maintenance unit,” said Lt. Col. Chris Cain, 96th Bomb Squadron commander. “They had 227 consecutive sorties without a cancellation. We kept the pressure on and supported the coalition, doing our part in the greater fight.”
B-52 airstrikes helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces retake and hold key territory, impeding ISIS’ ability to operate.
Barksdale’s B-52s in Qatar are part of the 19-nation air coalition conducting operations in the region. These include the elimination of ISIS and the threat they pose to the region and the wider international community.
Cain, who is returning from his fifth deployment, says these deployments are important for his family and the nation as a whole because combat missions aid in keeping the fight away from home.
“Our Airmen are overjoyed to be back and seeing their loved ones again,” he said. “As a commander, I look at it as getting everyone home safely, and I consider that the most successful part of the deployment.”
After more than 24 hours on the rotator flight back to Barksdale, Capt. Brett Matcheck, 96th BS assistant director of operations, is ready to reconnect with his family.
“I’m ready to spend time with my family and play with my kids,” he said. “My youngest son is two years old, so he kind of forgot who I am. We [communicated through] Facetime a lot, but it’s not the same as being in person.”
While these Airmen spend some well-earned time resting at home, the Air Force continues to combat terrorism around the world. Whether overseas or stateside, Barksdale Airmen work tirelessly to defeat our adversaries and serve as global sentinels.