The 2d Bomb Wing conducts the primary mission of Barksdale Air Force Base, La., with three squadrons of B-52H Stratofortress bombers - the 11th Bomb Squadron, which is the training squadron, the 20th Bomb Squadron and the 96th Bomb Squadron.
Together they ensure the 2d Bomb Wing provides flexible, responsive, global combat capability, autonomously or in concert with other forces, and trains all Air Force Global Strike Command and Air Force Reserve B-52 crews, including our 307th Bomb Wing mission partners here at Barksdale AFB.
Personnel and Resources
The 2d Bomb Wing is the largest bomb wing in Air Force Global Strike Command and part of the historic 8th Air Force. More than 8,500 active-duty, Air Force Reserve members and civilians make up Barksdale's workforce. About 26 B-52 Stratofortress aircraft are also assigned to the wing.
The history of the 2d Bomb Wing is nearly as old as American air power itself. Beginning in World War I, the unit was established by the American Expeditionary Forces as the first effort in aerial bombardment.
Organized on Sept. 10, 1918, as the 1st Day Bombardment Group at Amanty Airdome, France, the group flew the French-built Berguet 14 and the DeHavilland DH-4 aircraft in the St. Mihiel Offensive. The group was deactivated after the war, then reorganized Sept. 18, 1919, at Ellington Field, Texas. The group stayed in Texas until July 1922 when it was re-designated the 2nd Bombardment Group and subsequently moved to Langley Field, Va.
Remaining at Langley Field for more than 20 years, the 2nd Bomb Group underwent several name changes and operated a series of different aircraft, until it was thrust into action once again. Early in World War II, the 2nd Bomb Group was assigned anti-submarine patrol duty, and in October 1942 was earmarked for combat. The unit started with fresh personnel at Ephrata, Wash., and entered combat operations in North Africa in March 1943. It subsequently became the 2nd Bombardment Group (Heavy) in July 1943, while flying the B-17 bomber against Axis targets in the Mediterranean area. From April 28, 1943, until May 1, 1945, the unit flew a total of 412 combat missions, bombing targets in Africa, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Greece and Poland.
The phase-down of the vast American military following World War II was reflected in the activities of the 2nd Bombardment Group. In May 1949, the wing transferred to Chatham Air Force Base, near Savannah, Ga.
The wing left Georgia April 1, 1963, and moved to Barksdale Air Force Base, taking control of the B-52G Stratofortress aircraft assigned to the 4238th Strategic Wing.
On January 16-17, 1991, seven B-52Gs from the 596th Bomb Squadron carried out the first offensive strike of Operation DESERT STORM. This mission was officially known as Operation SENIOR SURPRISE, but because of the classified planning and preparations, the aircrew involved called it Operation “SECRET SQUIRREL.” This was very notable for the wing because it was the first mission in which bombers launched from and recovered to a base in the continental U.S. (a “CONUS-to-CONUS” long range strike) in the course of a combat mission, it was the longest aerial combat mission on record at the time, and it was the first employment of AGM -86C Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missiles (CALCM) in combat. The aircrews flew about 14,000 miles during over 35 hours to launch 35 CALCM against designated Iraqi command-and-control targets. A year later, some information about the mission was declassified and the “Secret Squirrels” who had flown the mission received medals in a public ceremony on Barksdale AFB.
To more adequately address its mixture of tankers and bombers, the wing was re-designated the 2d Wing Sept. 1, 1991.
In December 1992, the last B-52G left Barksdale for long-term storage in Arizona. The 2d Wing's fleet of bombers was replaced with a newer B-52H fleet. Also in December, the wing reclaimed the name of one of its original World War I bomb squadrons: the 20th Bomb Squadron. The wing was re-designated as the 2d Bomb Wing on Oct. 1, 1993, and transferred its KC-135A Stratotankers and KC-10 Extenders to Air Mobility Command's 458th Operations Group at Barksdale.
Two 2d Bomb Wing B-52Hs assigned to the 96th Bomb Squadron flew the first-ever around-the-world bombing mission on Aug. 1, 1994. The trip took 47.2 hours, the longest jet flight ever - one more demonstration of the wing's ability to extend American military muscle anywhere in the world.
Today, as the largest bomb wing in the U.S. Air Force and part of the historic 8th Air Force, the wing continues to reflect the heritage of its motto, Libertatem Defendimus: "Liberty We Defend." The wing continues to conduct training and deployments around the world, including support for ongoing Operations IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM (in Afghanistan).
The emblem of the 2d Bomb Wing reflects a proud heritage almost as old as American air power. In the shape of an Air Force shield, the emblem is divided at the top into five perpendicular stripes. The colors of the stripes -- black and primitive green -- are those that the wing bore as part of the Army Air Service during World War I. The three primitive green stripes represent the three major offensives in which the wing participated during that war: St. Mihiel, Lorraine and Meuse-Argonne. The white fleur de lis at the top symbolizes France, the theater of operations for the wing's World War I achievements. The lower portion of the shield is in Air Force golden yellow, charged with four aerial bombs in ultramarine blue, not only representing the original four combatant squadrons assigned during World War I, but also suggesting the unit's present mission as a heavy bombardment wing of Air Combat Command.
(Current as of March 2021)