Building Combat Power…Together

  • Published
  • By Colonel Matthew McDaniel
  • 2nd Operations Group

Last Wednesday, Aug. 26, Barksdale Air Force Base accomplished something truly significant…a display of combat power against the backdrop of an imminent natural disaster.  With Hurricane Laura bearing down on the base, our team launched 27 B-52H Stratofortress sorties, shored up the base’s facilities and successfully readied families and the local community for the storm.  As the first rains poured down on a largely empty and windswept flight line, we were braced for the storm with only a handful of first responders keeping watch, while a majority of base personnel were home with family and friends. Within hours after the hurricane’s passage, base services were restored and operational.  In 24 hours, the airfield was again open, our crews safely recovering their aircraft to Louisiana. 

Although it is notable that we secured the base and flew 54 sorties in four days, more important is the reality that Team Barksdale accomplished the mission together.  Every organization contributed to this success, both before, during and after the storm.  The adage that “the strength of the pack is the wolf, and strength of the wolf is the pack” still holds true.  Simply put, we are reliant on each other…from the aircraft maintainers who launched the jets to the Defenders who secured the base; the Child Development Center who opened for mission essential personnel and the Civil Engineers who rapidly responded; the neighbor who offered sanctuary to a family without power to the squadron who took care of a deployed member’s spouse…to accomplish the mission.  This reliance on each other is, and always will be, the true nexus of overcoming adversity today and generating combat power tomorrow.

     Now, more than ever, we need to continue banding together to build combat power and a thriving community.  Amidst the challenges of 2020, we will be tested again.  We will continue to train and “sweat in peace to bleed less in war.”  Our mission for the Nation remains paramount, for we hold the sword of long range conventional strike and the shield of nuclear deterrence. Let this week serve as a reminder that, not only, is all of Barksdale instrumental to our continued success, but also that the loss of a single member is catastrophic to the mission, our Barksdale family and the local community. As we work towards a long, and well-deserved, weekend, it goes without saying that we must continue to build our resilience and readiness for the adventures still ahead. 

As I write this, the sun is again shining, the humidity rising and the flight line is ready to conduct daily training missions.  Although you can see small, subtle changes wrought by the storm, a majority of the base has already returned to “normal” operations. As with all major events, it will quickly fade into the background as we continuously move forward.  However, we must never forget that each and every time a B-52 launches and recovers at Barksdale Air Force Base, it is culmination of the entire team’s efforts and a reminder that we are building combat power…together!