Preparing the future: 11th BS continues to train
By Airman 1st Class Jacob B. Wrightsman, 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 10, 2020
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
With the responsibility of training the next generation of warfighters, the 11th Bomb Squadron is entrusted with preparing new B-52H Stratofortress aircrew to face any and every adversary.
So, it’s fitting that the 11th BS is continuing it’s training in the face of the current global pandemic, COVID-19.
“They didn’t stop training during D-Day,” said Lt. Col. Richard Ruliffson, 11th BS commander. “We need to continue to have the students graduate on time and get to their squadrons so they can be the steely-eyed combat ready crew dogs we need.”
Aircrew officers that have been selected to fly in the B-52 come to 11th BS after completing initial flight training. Ranging from pilots, to weapon system operators, electronic warfare operators and navigators, all B-52 crew members are trained by the 11th BS.
Once at Barksdale, students receive specialized training consisting of both academic and flight training specific to their job.
“For about the first four months, it’s exclusively ground training,” said Capt. Cami Richan, 11th BS student. “So there are a lot of classes, computer based training and simulated flights to get us ready for the flightline phase.”
After transitioning from the classroom to the actual aircraft itself, aviators perform multiple tasks including air refueling, bomb runs, maneuvering, defending the aircraft and landing. Once students complete this course, they become operational B-52 aviators who transition to their assigned squadron.
So, it becomes apparent that without the continuation of training done at the 11th BS, the future of the B-52 could potentially be in jeopardy.
“The B-52 is important when it comes to our bomber fleet to deter other adversaries,” Richan said. “As the only B-52 training base, we need to keep the ball rolling somehow.”
In order to do that, the 11th BS has implemented changes to safeguard the health and well-being of their Airmen.
“We’ve moved desks around to ensure we are physically distant, we’ve worked with our civilian instructors to make sure students can do their computer based training from home and we’ve used more of the space in our building,” Ruliffson said. “We’ve had to get very creative.”
Even with the new changes and guidelines, the quality and duration of the training remain unaltered.
“Ever since they announced the CDC guidelines and limiting the amount of big groups that can be together, our instructors have essentially cut our classes to half the size,” Richan said. “One class comes in the morning and the other in the afternoon, so you’re still looking at the same time frame to graduate.”
“We are still teaching the same classes and interacting with students as much as we responsibly can,” Ruliffson added. “It’s still the same quality of training, just presented in a more creative way.”
As long as B-52s are flying overhead, the 11th BS will be supplying the manpower no matter the obstacle.