BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 307th Bomb Wing played an active role in GLOBAL THUNDER 21, an annual nuclear command and control exercise spearheaded by U.S. Strategic Command.
Maintenance personnel from the 707th Maintenance Squadron, aircrew assigned to the 343rd Bomb Squadron, and 307th BW staff took part in the exercise, which provides realistic training designed to enhance Airmen’s nuclear readiness and strategic deterrent capabilities.
“This is great training for our Airmen, said Col. Steven Kirkpatrick, 307th Bomb Wing commander. “The exercise is as close as you can get to operating in a real-world situation.”
Col. Steven Kirkpatrick, 307th Bomb Wing commander, headed up the Bomber Strategic Air Recovery Team (BSART), comprised of active-duty Airmen operating in a forward location. He said having a Reservist fill the BSART role helped streamline operations.
“It worked well because the 2nd and 5th Bomb Wing commanders are really concentrating on generating aircraft and making sure everything goes smoothly at home station,” he said. “Having a Reservist go forward and take care of this portion of the mission allowed them to do that.”
The 707th MXS played a dual role during GT 21. The unit, acting in classic association with the 2nd MXS, supported the exercise itself. It also filled in to accomplish daily maintenance activities required for normal operations on the flight line.
“This exercise helps because each aircraft we generate builds muscle memory,” explained Chief Master Sgt. Todd Leethy, 707th MXS superintendent. “The more you do it, the easier it becomes.”
One of the beneficiaries of the total force integration maintenance efforts was the 343rd Bomb Squadron, which flew multiple sorties during the exercise.
The bomber squadron’s ranks are filled with B-52 Stratofortress pilots and weapons systems officers that have flown together for years. Even with that continuity and experience, the unique training opportunities of GT 21 proved to be invaluable for the Airmen.
“There were many details to be considered,” said Lt. Col. Michael Green, 343rd BS commander. “For our Airmen, it brings the entire strategic concept full circle.”
GLOBAL THUNDER has been exercised annually since 2005 by U.S. Strategic Command. The 307th BW, the only bomber unit in Air Force Reserve Command, has taken part for several years.