Eighth Air Force commander visits BTF airmen in European theater

Maj. Gen. James Dawkins Jr., Eighth Air Force commander, poses for a photo with a pilot, call sign Heat, assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing, at Royal Air Force Base Fairford, England. Dawkins flew in a B-2 Spirit during his visit to engage with members of Whiteman Air Force Base who had deployed to RAF Fairford as a Battle Task Force to conduct theater integration and flying training.

ROYAL AIR FORCE FAIRFORD, England — Maj. Gen. James Dawkins Jr., the Eighth Air Force commander, flew across the Atlantic to visit his airmen from Aug. 27 to 28 at Royal Air Base Fairford, England.

He also flew a B-2 training sortie during his visit.

“The opportunity to get out and visit units gives me that rare insight into how they’re actually operating,” Dawkins said. “I learned a tremendous amount during this visit.”

Airmen from across Air Force Global Strike Command, including Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, Dyess AFB, Texas, and Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, along with airmen from Spangdahlem Air Base and Ramstein Air Base, Germany, converged as a Bomber Task Force to conduct theater integration and flying training in support of European Command objectives.

He said this deployment brings together the best leaders from the wing-level on down.

“I was really excited to see the multiple Eighth Air Force teams joining to execute our mission,” Dawkins said. “They really came together to make this deployment happen.”

Dawkins said having this type of training helps the U.S. maintain that level of unpredictability it needs to keep its adversaries guessing and provides the president options by testing out ability to operate from various locations around the world.

“When we participate in Bomber Task Force missions, it sends a huge message to our adversaries that we can strike from anywhere,” said Dawkins.

Dawkins also explained how BTF missions bolster our relationships with allies.

“There’s strength in numbers,” he said. “The U.S. and our allies, have critical capabilities to bring to the fold.”

BTF deployments allow the U.S. to demonstrate to its strategic partners its commitment to global security and stability, Dawkins said.

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