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Maintaining bomber lethality, readiness during COVID-19

U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber pilots and maintainers assigned to the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, pose for a photo after a flying mission at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, to support a Bomber Task Force mission,  Aug. 17, 2020. U.S. Strategic Command units regularly conduct training with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific. USSTRATCOM Bomber Task Force missions help maintain global stability and security while enabling units to become familiar with operations in different regions.(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar)

U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber pilots and maintainers assigned to the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, pose for a photo after a flying mission at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, to support a Bomber Task Force mission, Aug. 17, 2020. U.S. Strategic Command units regularly conduct training with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific. USSTRATCOM Bomber Task Force missions help maintain global stability and security while enabling units to become familiar with operations in different regions.(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Samuel Medina, Staff Sgt. Mark Farrar, and Senior Airman Robert Witkowski, maintainers assigned to the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, prepare to marshal a B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, to support a bomber task force mission,  Aug. 17, 2020. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, deployed members actively employed social distancing measures and mask wearing in order to continue operating U.S. Strategic Command’s dynamic force employment missions in the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Samuel Medina, Staff Sgt. Mark Farrar, and Senior Airman Robert Witkowski, maintainers assigned to the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, prepare to marshal a B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, to support a bomber task force mission, Aug. 17, 2020. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, deployed members actively employed social distancing measures and mask wearing in order to continue operating U.S. Strategic Command’s dynamic force employment missions in the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar)

1st Lt. Nathan Munford, 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron logistics officer, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, unloads cargo at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, August 12, 2020. More than 200 members from Team Whiteman deployed along with three B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers to support bomber task force missions. Missions such as these test the readiness of the Airmen and equipment, as well as their collective ability to operate at forward locations. U.S. Strategic Command routinely conducts operations across the globe to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar)

1st Lt. Nathan Munford, 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron logistics officer, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, unloads cargo at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, August 12, 2020. More than 200 members from Team Whiteman deployed along with three B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers to support bomber task force missions. Missions such as these test the readiness of the Airmen and equipment, as well as their collective ability to operate at forward locations. U.S. Strategic Command routinely conducts operations across the globe to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar)

Staff Sgt. Reece Headley, 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron logistics technician, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, unloads cargo at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, Aug 12, 2020. More than 200 members from Team Whiteman deployed along with three B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers to support bomber task force missions. Deployments such as these test the readiness of the Airmen and equipment, as well as their collective ability to operate at forward locations. U.S. Strategic Command routinely conducts operations across the globe to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar)

Staff Sgt. Reece Headley, 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron logistics technician, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, unloads cargo at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, Aug 12, 2020. More than 200 members from Team Whiteman deployed along with three B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers to support bomber task force missions. Deployments such as these test the readiness of the Airmen and equipment, as well as their collective ability to operate at forward locations. U.S. Strategic Command routinely conducts operations across the globe to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar)

NAVAL SUPPORT FACILITY, Diego Garcia --

COVID-19 is changing operational practices throughout the Air Force, forcing innovative adaptions in order to remain combat ready. For the members of the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron special considerations were taken to ensure every member was COVID free prior to arriving at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia.

Prior to deployment, each member completed a 14-day mandated quarantine and tested negative for COVID-19 before departing Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.

The restriction ensured Airmen were healthy and ready to perform their mission.

“We worked closely with our medical experts to design a model for how bombers can deploy to the other side of the globe during a pandemic,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Conant, Bomber Task Force commander. “To remain a lethal and ready force, our Airmen must be healthy.”

Any member who tested positive or was found violating the 14-day restriction, was immediately removed from the deployment as means to prevent possible spread or contamination.

“We needed to make sure we were minimizing any chances of bringing someone who was potentially COVID-positive with us to Diego Garcia, not just for the potential impacts it could mean for our mission, but for the U.S. Navy’s mission as well,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Joseph Sharp, 393rd EBS flight doctor.

Upon arrival at Diego Garcia, members began a second 14-day restricted movement phase to ensure local personnel and their mission remained unaffected.

During this restricted movement phase, members prepared for the arrival of the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber to demonstrate Air Force Global Strike Command’s ability to deliver lethal, ready, long-range strike options to Geographic Combatant Commanders anytime, anywhere.

Other protective measures also remain in place, such as social distancing, hand washing, and wearing masks when social distancing cannot be maintained.

The additional precautions allowed all members of the 393rd EBS to lead the way and support the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s mission to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region and demonstrate the B-2 Spirit’s capabilities across the world.