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8th Air Force Commander visits Bomber Task Force in Europe

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jennifer Zima
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

Maj. Gen. James Dawkins Jr., 8th Air Force and Joint-Global Strike Operations Center commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Melvina Smith, Eighth Air Force command chief, visited Airmen during a U.S. Strategic Command Bomber Task Force in Europe at RAF Fairford, April 4.

 The team spent the day traveling to more than 10 different base facilities to talk to Airmen deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, regarding their time and efforts supporting the BTF in Europe.

According to Dawkins, showing U.S. support for our NATO allies and strengthening Air Force bomber and war-fighting capabilities within the European theater were the main goals of this deployment to the U.K.

“Make no mistake, Russia is certainly watching what we’re doing, but more importantly our allies are watching,” said Dawkins. “We’re showing commitment to them across the board. That is probably the biggest takeaway – demonstration to our allies and adversaries on the capabilities of United States airpower.”

RAF Fairford provided Barksdale Airmen the opportunity to be innovative in a new environment without the support of a full-fledged base.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of learning taking place by the team,” said Dawkins. “They’re learning about teamwork and about how to make the mission happen without all the resources that they normally are accustomed to.”

The 501st Combat Support Wing provided support to the Barksdale Airmen during their deployment. RAF Fairford is one of seven strategic installations in the 501st CSW, and has been used by the U.S. Air Force nearly continuously since it was first built for D-Day operations in 1944. RAF Fairford is United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa’s only bomber forward-operating location.

“The 501st has been a fantastic mission partner, and we had a great visit,” said Dawkins.

The 501st supported six B-52 Stratofortress aircraft, Airmen and support equipment as they conducted theater integration and flying training. Training with joint partners, allied nations and other U.S. Air Force units contributes to our ready and postured forces and enables us to build enduring and strategic relationships necessary to confront a broad range of global challenges.

“It’s been great being over here in the United Kingdom,” said Dawkins. “The foundation was established in the early 1940s as 8th Air Force came over to England to fight alongside the United Kingdom to ensure that freedom was restored and democracy remained safe.”