As the one-year anniversary of the US killing of Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani approaches, combined with the upcoming U.S. Presidential transition, there could be an increased threat from Iran.
A pair of US Air Force (USAF) B-52H “Stratofortresses” assigned to the Barksdale Air Force Base-headquartered 2nd Bomb Wing operated in the US Central Command area of responsibility with other USAF and regional partner aircraft in the second mission in as many months.
As reported in the CENTCOM News Release, the short-notice, non-stop mission was designed to underscore the US military’s commitment to its regional partners, while also validating the ability to rapidly deploy combat power anywhere in the world, said the senior commander of US forces in the Middle East.
“The ability to fly strategic bombers halfway across the world in a non-stop mission, and to rapidly integrate them with multiple regional partners demonstrates our close working relationships and our shared commitment to regional security and stability,” said US Central Command’s (CENTCOM) commander, Gen. Frank McKenzie.
While assuring allies and partners, the mission was also designed to deter aggression.
“Potential adversaries should understand that no nation on earth is more ready and capable of rapidly deploying additional combat power in the face of any aggression,” said McKenzie. “Our ability to work together as partners on a mission like this heightens our collective readiness to respond to any crisis or contingency.”
The US Air Force routinely flies a variety of aircraft and units throughout the Middle East, which is one way that CENTCOM promotes regional security. Temporary long-range bomber deployments into the region can be traced back to at least 2015.
Aircrews use transponders and operate in conformity with international law, including with due regard for the safety of navigation of aircraft during every flight, and coordinate with relevant nations.
“We do not seek conflict,” McKenzie said, “but we must remain postured and committed to respond to any contingency or in opposition to any aggression.”
According to Air Force Magazine the mission is a message of deterrence to Iran.
As the one-year anniversary of the US killing of Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani approaches, combined with the upcoming US Presidential transition, there could be an increased threat from Iran. Additionally, the lack of a coherent chain of command between Iran and its proxies creates a concern that the proxy forces would act on their own, McKenzie said.
The No. 1 priority of CENTCOM is to deter Iran, and “convince them it is not in their interest to lash out. It is not in their interest to attack us directly or indirectly,” McKenzie added.
Photo credit: Senior Airman Lillian Miller / U.S. Air Force