Air, land, sea: Barksdale Air Force Base's role in the nation's nuclear triad

Air, land, sea: Barksdale Air Force Base's role in the nation's nuclear triad
B-52 on flight line at BAFB, Bossier City, LA/Source: DIVIDS
B-52 on flight line at BAFB, Bossier City, LA/Source: DIVIDS

BARKSDALE AFB, LA (KSLA) - Since its development during the Cold War, the United States military's Nuclear Triad has retained an important role in reinforcing U.S. national security.

Much of the triad is functioning as a result of the airmen located at Barksdale Air Force base.

The Nuclear Triad is a three-sided military-force structure, consisting of strategic manned-bombers, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

The triad is the ability to launch nuclear grade weapons by air, land and sea.

"Barksdale has a tremendous role from the Air Force perspective,"  said 2d Operations Group Commander, Col. Kurt Schendzielos. "You've got Air Force Global Strike Command which now has two legs of the nuclear capability and all the Air Force capability between the ICBMs and the B-52s."

Col. Schendzielos says Barksdale's aviators maintain a high-level of readiness at all times. Which means preparing for the future and the continuing evolution of warfare.

"It's not the plan itself that's important. It's the planning and doing the planning and studying," said Col. Schendzielos. "We do have that capability to flex to whatever it is, because the enemy has a vote, so being able to change and shift and adapt to whatever the situation becomes."

Strategic bombers are used daily around the globe to display American power and its resolve to defend allies. Providing what's often referred to as assurance, deterrence and compellence.

"We can interact in an ally to exercise and show that we have communications pathways and train our tactics," Col. Schendzielos continued. "As a deterrence, we can fly near a border and show as a messaging toward some decision we don't want to later to make that we are there and capable, and then after the fact if they've already made that decision we can either just message or we can go into strike and conflict."

Bombers can be quickly deployed and quickly recalled in response to last-minute decisions.

In addition to nuclear capabilities, the B-52s can carry more conventional weapons, allowing the Air Force to use them during non-nuclear missions.

"We have one of the largest weapons range of types of weapons that can be dropped," said Col. Schendzielos. "That goes from leaflets that will influence the decision of soldiers on the ground or help people on the ground get to safety, all the way up to nuclear combat and everything in between."

While stationed around the globe, Louisiana serves as one of the home bases for the iconic aircraft.

"The very first time an aviator touches the jet, to the very highest level education and capability test pilot and weapons officer all happens here at Barksdale," said Col. Schendzielos.

"We are cycling through that all the time, so every time you hear that jet take off that is the airmen training to do those missions," said Col. Schendzielos.

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