While Gen. Goldfein says there is no expected specific event, preparation of the B-52s for the possibility of 24/7 readiness does come at a time of rising tensions in the geopolitical climate, intensified by Norther Korea’s growing nuclear arsenal and Trump’s callous name-calling of their leader, as well as by Russia’s increasingly active armed forces.
In addition, earlier this month Trump gave a cryptic, ominous warning after a White House meeting with U.S. military leaders.
On the evening of October 5, while throwing a dinner party for military commanders, Trump invited reporters to the State Dining Room, reports the New York Times. He gestured to the military leaders, and told the reporters: “You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.”
When questioned by the reporters for what he had meant, if he was referring to Iran, or ISIS, or North Korea, the president just smiled and repeated: “Could be the calm before the storm.”
To add more confusion and uncertainty into the mix, Trump recently signed an executive order that allows the recalling of retired Air Force pilots, yet the Air Force itself reports they have no intentions of actually recalling those pilots. Trump also used executive action to extend his authority to recall back into service “any retired member of the Regular Army, Regular Navy, Regular Air Force, or Regular Marine Corps.”
The B-52 — also called the Stratofortress — can fly up to about 50,000 feet elevation, and release a variety of weapons, including cluster bombs, gravity bombs and precision guided missiles. According to Defense One, two nuclear command planes, the E-4B Nightwatch and E-6B Mercury, will also be deployed to Barksdale. During a nuclear war, they would serve as flying command posts of the defense secretary.