As North Korea ramps up its threats to unleash nuclear weapons against the U.S. and American allies, the Trump administration is reportedly preparing to put nuclear weapons-carrying B-52 bombers back on 24/7/365 alert, a status not seen since the Cold War.
Should the president make the decision, it would mean that nuclear-loaded bombers would once again be set to take off at a moment’s notice from airfields long dormant or much less utilized since the stand-down order last came in 1991.
“This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared,” Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff, said in an interview during his six-day tour of Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and other USAF facilities that support the nuclear mission. “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.”
While Goldfein stressed that the order had not yet been issued, the service was preparing for the eventuality.
In addition to North Korea’s increasing nuclear capability, the Russian armed forces have become much more active — and Moscow more aggressive — in recent years as well, including upgrading its own nuclear forces.
“The world is a dangerous place and we’ve got folks that are talking openly about use of nuclear weapons,” said Goldfein. “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.”
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