As tensions between North Korea and South Korea escalate, the United States has deployed two strategic bombers with nuclear capabilities to Guam, a core pillar of America’s regional military presence dubbed “the tip of the spear.”
After Korea Times reports of the bombers’ stationing at Andersen Air Force Base, based on information from aviation trackers, the US military publicly confirmed the moves.
“This is the second time Andersen has saluted the (aircraft) for a Bomber Task Force mission this year to demonstrate the bomber’s ability to deploy anywhere, anytime quickly and provide deadly precision global attack options for combatant commanders.” , a release of the 28th Bomb Explained Wing.
A photo of the bombers, taken by Aircraft Spots, was shared on Twitter, noting that the strategic bombers that landed in Guam on Oct. 19 “launched a new Bomber Task Force deployment amid rising tensions with North Korea.”
The bombers’ move to Guam comes as North Korea is believed to be preparing for a seventh nuclear test after firing eight ballistic missiles in the past three weeks, the Korea Times reported.
But the military’s Oct. 21 release tied the deployment not to an actual or potential foreign threat, but to “multilateral training.”
“The Bomber Task Force’s operations and missions provide important assurances and collaboration with mutual and partnered allies in the region,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Mount, operations director, 37th Bomb Squadron. “The B-1 is a particularly capable platform in this region, capable of long range travel and carrying significant firepower with precision and standoff munitions.”
No specific missions or training events have been announced for this latest deployment, but the release says the activities will “benefit a variety of Air Force career fields and train Airmen to respond to potential crises or challenges in the Indo-Pacific.”
The concurrent work, enhanced by training through bomber operations, includes maintenance, cargo, logistics, planning records and health care, according to the 28th Bomber Squadron.
“This bomber task force demonstrates the continued US commitment to the Pacific,” said Colonel Joseph Sheffield, commander of the 28th Bomb Squadron. “It not only provides our B-1 flight crew with invaluable training opportunities with key allies and partners, but also signals to them our nation’s unwavering support.” At the same time, BTFs like these play a crucial role in deterring potential adversaries and challenging their decision-making calculus.”
Tensions on the Peninsula
Tensions rose as South Korea began its two-week Hoguk defense exercise last Monday, and North Korea subsequently responded with a demonstration of military countermeasures.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) on Wednesday said Pyongyang fired about 100 artillery shells from its west coast around noon, adding that the rounds fell into a buffer zone north of the northern border line established as part of the Inter-Korean 2018 Military deal aimed at stopping all hostile acts against each other to ease tensions along the inter-Korean border, according to The Korea Times.
Although none of the shells entered South Korean territorial waters, North Korea is said to have received multiple warnings about violating the September 19 military agreement and immediately ending the provocations.
Pyongyang’s actions, which the US State Department has described as “provocative,” prompted talks between senior military officials from Japan, the United States and South Korea in Washington on Thursday.
According to the Japan Times, the discussion led to a reaffirmation of the US’ “iron-clad pledge” to defend the two East Asian allies.
“Following a series of provocative acts by Pyongyang, the US, Japan and South Korea are strengthening defense cooperation and conducting their first joint anti-submarine drill in five years in late September and joint ballistic missile detection drills earlier this month. ‘ reported the Japan Times. “They agreed that their trilateral alliance is essential to maintaining peace and stability in the region and ensuring a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific,’ the vision promoted by Japan and the US to counter China’s military might in the region. “
According to The Korea Times, North Korea’s movements are being tracked and monitored in close cooperation with the United States.
“Our military is increasing its readiness to prepare for possible contingencies,” South Korea’s JCS said.