BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 343rd Bomb Squadron took the bomber community’s top honors in this year’s Global Strike Competition, winning the LeMay, Mitchell and Linebacker Awards during the score posting held here, Nov. 20.
The competition, held every two years, is hosted and run by Air Force Global Strike Command and serves as the world’s premiere bomber, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, helicopter operations and security forces competition.
The unit outpaced 19 other squadrons in earning the Lemay Trophy for best bomb squadron in the Air Force and the Linebacker Award for best B-52 Stratofortress squadron.
It was the first time since GSC started in 2009 that the 343rd BS has won three of the four available bombing awards in a single year.
Lt. Col. Michael Green, 343rd BS commander, said being a Reserve unit afforded a distinct advantage.
“We have seasoned maintainers and aviators who have been doing this a long time, so even operating under the tightest constraints, they are going to be able to go out and perform well,” he said.
It was the second time in a row the unit has won the Mitchell Trophy, the award given for most accurate unguided munition. The 343rd BS has won the title three of the last four competitions.
In the last two victories, the winning crews' bombs went “shack”. That is, their unguided munition literally landed directly on the target.
Maj. Timothy Humpal served as the weapons systems officer for the unit during the competition. He said it was critical for the crew to know the B-52 well and work together to ensure a stable launch platform.
“This concrete bomb is released from four or five miles away, so it’s really a combination of the guys downstairs knowing the best release point and the pilots executing it,” he explained.
Humpal also added that any small mistake by the crew can send the munition far from its intended target.
Green chalked up the crew’s performance to the training all members of the 343rd BS go through to avoid those types of errors.
“I could not be more proud of these guys,” said Green. “The work they put in, day in and day out, makes them uniquely capable and it shows in what we saw them do during this competition.”
This year’s GSC focused on great power competition. It was also centered around AFGSC Commander Gen. Tim Ray’s “fight the base” initiative, which is derived from the command’s 2020 strategic plan. Fight the base hones in on revitalizing wing training programs to enhance readiness for potential attacks and threats.