DefenseOne reports on new preparations at Barksdale Air Force Base:
The U.S. Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991. That means the long-dormant concrete pads at the ends of this base's 11,000-foot runway -- dubbed the "Christmas tree" for their angular markings -- could once again find several B-52s parked on them, laden with nuclear weapons and set to take off at a moment's notice... Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff, and other senior defense officials stressed that the alert order had not been given, but that preparations were under way in anticipation that it might come...
Already, various improvements have been made to prepare Barksdale -- home to the 2d Bomb Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees the service's nuclear forces -- to return B-52s to an alert posture. Near the alert pads, an old concrete building -- where B-52 crews during the Cold War would sleep, ready to run to their aircraft and take off at a moment's notice -- is being renovated. Inside, beds are being installed for more than 100 crew members, more than enough room for the crews that would man bombers positioned on the nine alert pads outside... Large paintings of the patches for each squadron at Barksdale adorn the walls of a large stairway. One painting -- a symbol of the Cold War -- depicts a silhouette of a B-52 with the words "Peace The Old Fashioned Way," written underneath.
General Goldfein, the Air Force's top officer and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "is asking his force to think about new ways that nuclear weapons could be used for deterrence, or even combat... 'It's no longer a bipolar world where it's just us and the Soviet Union. We've got other players out there who have nuclear capability. It's never been more important to make sure that we get this mission right.'"
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