B-52 bombers deployed to the Middle East

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The US military deployed B-52 bombers to the Middle East on Saturday, October 21, 2020, just days after the Trump administration announced a partial withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.

US Central Command said the US Air Force B-52H “Stratofortress” aircrews carried out the mission on “short notice” to “deter aggression and reassure partners and US allies. ”

“The ability to move forces rapidly in, out, and around the theater to seize, retain and exploit initiative is key to deterring potential aggression,” said Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot, commander of the 9th Air Force.

“These missions help bomber crews to become familiar with the airspace and command and control functions of the region and allow them to integrate with US air assets and theater partners, increasing the overall readiness of the combined force. “.

President Trump’s new acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller announced Tuesday a troop reduction to 2,500 in Afghanistan and 2,500 in Iraq by January 15 of next year. There are approximately 4,500 soldiers in Afghanistan and 3,000 in Iraq at the moment.

“In light of these tremendous sacrifices, and with great humility and gratitude to those who came before us, I am formally announcing that we will implement President Trump’s orders to continue our repositioning of forces from those two countries,” Miller said Tuesday.

“This is consistent with our stated strategic plans and goals, supported by the American people, and does not amount to a change in policy or goals.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday to participate in what could be his latest round of negotiations with the Taliban and the Afghan government on a peace deal.

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It’s unclear where the B-52H bombers went in the Middle East on Saturday, but they departed from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

Minot Air Force Base is the only base in the United States that houses both ICBMs in underground silos and a fleet of bombers also capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

It marks the first B-52 mission to the Middle East in several months. In January, after the elite US Army Joint Special Operations Command killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a drone attack , six B-52 bombers were sent to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.