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Global Thunder 17 evaluates operational readiness

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jessica Weissman
  • Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
Team Minot members participated in an annual exercise in support of the U.S. Strategic Command known as Global Thunder 17, Oct. 24 – 31.

Global Thunder 17 is a command and control exercise designed to train Department of Defense forces and assess joint operational readiness across all mission areas.

Since its inception in 2005, the USSTRATCOM exercise has provided realistic training for nuclear command, control and communication operations. The exercise included allied forces participation to help improve the ability to operate and integrate successfully.

Global Thunder 17 focused on generating strategic deterrent forces, training sorties and tanker movements as well as the deployment of intelligence assets.

“The 5th Bomb Wing's role in Global Thunder was to generate aircraft from normal day-to-day operations to nuclear capable alert status,” said Maj. Paul Goossen, 5th Bomb Wing Inspector General. “The bomber, and particularly the B-52, represents the most visible signaling platform in the U.S. nuclear force structure. So our role is really to provide flexibility to national decision-makers.”

“Over 1,600 Airmen here at Minot were on alert status for the week-and-a-half long exercise working in our respective specialties… from crew chiefs conducting pre-flight checks, weapons loadmasters loading the aircraft, to munitions Airmen,” said Chief Master Sgt. Charles Miller, 5th Maintenance Squadron superintendent.

Squadrons here devoted nearly 60 days of preparation to ensure the success of the exercise.

“This is a visible demonstration to our allies and adversaries that we can deter and assure through the use of global strike, if necessary,” Miller said.

Adm. Cecil D. Haney, USSTRATCOM commander, emphasized that the main goal for exercise GT17 was to set the conditions for strategic deterrence against a variety of threats to exercise all USSTRATCOM missions.

“Testing our forces through a range of challenging scenarios validates the safety, security, effectiveness and readiness of the strategic deterrent we provide the nation,” Haney said. “U.S. Strategic Command forces are on watch 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing the credible deterrent capable of convincing potential adversaries that they cannot escalate their way out of a failed conflict, restraint is a better option.”

The exercise concluded with the 5th Bomb Wing successfully launching 20 B-52Hs.

“For the 5th Bomb Wing, Global Thunder 17 was a huge success. Any time you can succeed so greatly in such a difficult test, it's a boost to both unit and personal morale,” Goossen said. “I think people are going to be talking about the 5th Bomb Wing's success in GT 17 for a long time.”