EXCLUSIVE: US Preparing to Put Nuclear Bombers Back on 24-Hour Alert

A 2014 photo of a B-52H Stratofortress based at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. (U.S. AIR FORCE / SENIOR AIRMAN CHRISTINE GRIFFITHS)

 

If the order comes, the B-52s will return to a ready-to-fly posture not seen since the Cold War.

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. —  The U.S. Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991.

That means the long-dormant concrete pads at the ends of this base’s 11,000-foot runway — dubbed the “Christmas tree” for their angular markings — could once again find several B-52s parked on them, laden with nuclear weapons and set to take off at a moment’s notice.

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The Challenge for the Next President: Reversing the Decline in U.S. Power

A top priority for the next President of the United States must be to demonstrate the strength and confidence to protect the nation’s vital interests at home and abroad. These vital interests are: (1) defense of the homeland; (2) prevention or successful conclusion of a major war with the potential to destabilize regions of critical interest to the U.S.; and (3) preservation of freedom of movement within the global commons: the sea, the air, cyberspace, and outer space domains through which the world conducts business.[1]

There is clearly a need to do something different. The Heritage Foundation’s Index of U.S. Military Strength graded the ability of the United States to protect its vital interests as “marginal,” an assessment that reflects both deteriorating U.S. capabilities and rising concerns in key parts of the world.[2] Further, it is clear that this Administration’s approach to defense and foreign policy is deeply flawed.[3] In practice, it has served the nation poorly. Continue reading