For the first time since the cold war ended, the U.S. Military is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert.
B-52 bombers will be loaded with nuclear weapons and would be positioned to take off at any moment, with crews on standby at a base in Louisiana.
Gen David Goldfein, the US Air Force chief of staff, told Defense One that his branch was preparing to put the B-52 bombers back on 24-hour ready alert for the first time since the Cold War ended in 1991.
Speaking with Defense One, General Goldfein said: “This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re 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.”
General Goldfein added: “The world is a dangerous place and we’ve got folks that are talking openly about the use of nuclear weapons.
“It’s no longer a bipolar world where it’s just us and the Soviet Union.
“We’ve got other players out there who have nuclear capability.”
“It’s never been more important to make sure that we get this mission right.”
The General has told his commanders to begin planning for the event of all-out nuclear war.
He said: “I’ve challenged Air Force Global Strike Command to help lead the dialogue, help with this discussion about ‘What does conventional conflict look like with a nuclear element?’ and ‘Do we respond as a global force if that were to occur?’ and ‘What are the options?’.
“How do we think about it — how do we think about deterrence in that environment?”
The move comes just days after President Trump signed an executive order allowing the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 retired fighter pilots.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross, said in a statement that the Air Force is currently “short approximately 1,500 pilots of its requirements.”
“We anticipate that the Secretary of Defense will delegate the authority to the Secretary of the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots for up to 3 years,” Ross said. “The pilot supply shortage is a national level challenge that could have adverse effects on all aspects of both the government and commercial aviation sectors for years to come.”