Two U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress aircraft from the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, N.D., arrived at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, April 23. The bombers, which are the first two in the group announced by the U.S. Department of Defense, are deployed to the U. S. Central Command region to protect U.S. and coalition forces as they conduct drawdown operations from Afghanistan. The bombers will be accompanied by support Airmen from the 5th Bomb Wing.
The U.S. Department of Defense decision to “leave a limited US troop presence in Afghanistan after the combat mission ends” later this year. However, he acknowledged the President’s plan is contingent on whether Afghan leaders sign a bilateral security agreement that protects Americans operating in Afghanistan from local prosecution. The effort was stalled by outgoing President Hamid Karzai, but has widespread support among other Afghan leaders.
There are roughly 3,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and around 7,000 NATO and allied forces. Those NATO forces will probably withdraw alongside the United States, as many countries in the coalition are dependent on American support. Atop the international military forces in Afghanistan, there are also roughly 18,000 contractors in the country, almost all of whom will also depart. The contracts “will have to be adjusted” so that the Afghan security forces.
The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is an American long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber. The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, which has continued to provide support and upgrades. It has been operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) since the 1950s. The bomber is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds (32,000 kg) of weapons, and has a typical combat range of more than 8,800 miles (14,080 km) without aerial refueling. A total of 102 B-52Hs were built.