There were many unanswered questions following last night’s story from Defense One, according to which the US Air Force would put nuclear bombers on high, 24-hour alert for the first time since the end of the cold war in 1991. There may be even more questions on Monday, when the Air Force denied the report and said it was not preparing to put its B-52 nuclear bombers on 24-hour alert, adding that a “misunderstanding” might have led to a report claiming those preparations are underway.
According to Ann Stefanek, the chief of Air Force media operations at the Pentagon, updates to facilities, exercises, and training related to the B-52 Stratofortress aircraft at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana are done routinely to ensure the service is prepared.
“We are not planning or preparing to put B-52s back on alert,” Stefanek said.
Sunday’s report in Defense One said the Air Force was preparing to put the long-range strategic bombers at Barksdale on around-the-clock alert for the first time since 1991. The report also pointed out that the alert order had not been given, and that officials were preparing for such an order if it comes.
Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, was quoted as saying the service was taking “one more step” to ensure it is prepared.
“I look at it more as not planning for any specific event, but more for the reality of the global situation we find ourselves in and how we ensure we’re prepared going forward,” Goldfein told Defense One.
It remains unclear just where the alleged “misunderstanding” took place in the breakdown of communication between Goldfein, Defense One, and today’s damage control by the USAF.