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2nd Bomb Wing’s Bayou Warrior Exercise Tests Combat Readiness

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Staci Kasischke
  • 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

The 2nd Bomb Wing conducted Exercise Bayou Warrior from June 10-13, 2024, to evaluate its ability to execute conventional missions.

“Bayou Warrior is a conventional readiness exercise that evaluates our ability to generate and execute missions,” said Lt. Col. Amanda Goncalves, 2nd Operations Support Squadron commander.

This exercise required collaboration among maintenance personnel, aircrew, and weapons loaders to efficiently generate and load conventional weapons. It involved detailed preparation, with months spent planning objectives, coordinating inspection teams, and developing realistic scenarios to prepare crews for real-world situations.

“It’s like a test at school,” said Goncalves. “They’ve studied and practiced, and now they’re showing what they know.”

Participating in exercises help Airmen refine their skills and procedures.

“Training and repetition are key,” said Goncalves. “We train like we fight, ensuring safety and precision in all operations.”

These exercises are essential for ensuring readiness at a moment's notice. While the weapons were not actually deployed, flying with Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles, or JASSMs, significantly enhances the aircrew ’s proficiency.

“It's not that common for us to actually fly around with JASSMs on the pylons,” said Capt. Timothy Walraven, 20th Bomb Squadron weapon systems officer. “It's good for aircrew to fly with them, because it makes them more proficient in the sense that they have a better idea of what they are going to see.”

These training opportunities enable aircrews to get valuable experience on the ground and in the air when it comes to working with conventional weapons.

“There's a little bit more work that goes into it,” said Walraven. “You have to preflight the weapons, make sure on the ground that they're good to go, and that everything's safe. Some of the screens that you see in the jet are different, some of the indications are going to be different, as well as maybe some of the parameters.”

Meanwhile, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Airmen ensured the B-52s were prepared for take-off.

“Maintenance is being evaluated as part of this exercise,” said Master Sgt. Nickolas Shelton, 2nd AMXS production superintendent. “There's added pressure to execute, but the biggest thing is making sure we're doing our job and we're doing it safely. We're proud to do this and showcase that our people are trained and are ready to go.”

Upon completion of the exercise, data is compiled into a report identifying strengths and areas for improvement. This evaluation process allows for ongoing development and process refinement.

“These reports help us identify where we excel and where we need to improve, ensuring we’re always ready,” Goncalves said.

Exercises like Bayou Warrior sharpen Airmen's skills and bolster the Wing's ability to execute conventional missions and uphold strategic deterrence.

“The B-52 is definitely a sign of deterrence and support to our allies,” said Walraven. “It's really inspiring to be a part of this mission.”