US B-1B bomber arrives in Guam amid rising tensions with 'adversaries'
The bomber will take part in military exercises with unknown regional allies and is aimed at displaying the US' capability to conduct global operations at any time.
Following reports made by aircraft-tracking websites of a US airforce B-1B bomber landing in Gaum this week, the US army confirmed on Thursday deploying the bomber to their US pacific territory as part of a "bomber task force" mission.
The arrival of the long-range bomber comes amid rising tensions with China over Taiwan and recent military exercises announced by North Korea.
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After being asked about whether the mission aims to send a message to North Korea, the Pentagon Spokesperson Brigadier General Pat Ryder said in a briefing that the mission is "meant to send a message that the United States stands closely with its allies and partners to deter potential provocation," adding that it is also a demonstration of the US ability to carry out global operations at any time.
Lt. Colonel Daniel Mount, of the 37th Bomb Squadron, stated that “the B-1 is an especially capable platform in this region, being able to travel large distances and bear significant firepower with precision and standoff munitions," while another officer said the bomber task force mission "plays a critical role in deterring potential adversaries and challenging their decision calculus."
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The US Air Force statement said the bombers will take part in training missions with allied forces in the Indo-Pacific regions, without mentioning who the partners in the exercises are.
On October 13, Kim Jong Un, leader of the DPRK, supervised the launch of two long-range cruise missiles and drills on weapons equipped to carry tactical nukes which had already been deployed to North Korean army units.
North Korean army units involved in "the operation of tactical nukes staged military drills from September 25 to October 9 in order to check and assess the war deterrent and nuclear counterattack capability."
The country has conducted a record number of missile tests this year, including launching one over Japan. Officials in Washington and Seoul say North Korea also appears prepared to resume nuclear testing for the first time since 2017.
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North Korea mentioned that the drills were necessary countermeasures against joint military drills by the United States and South Korea.
It's noteworthy that the situation around Taiwan escalated following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taipei. China considers Taiwan part of its territory and opposes any direct official foreign contact with the island. Pelosi's visit led China to announce ending cooperation with the US on a number of issues such as climate change, anti-drug efforts, and military talks.
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US Senate Foreign Relations Committee pushed forward in September the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022, which will provide Taiwan with $4.5 billion in security aid and a $2 billion loan guarantee for the purchase of military equipment. The bill will provide Taiwan with aid over four years, in addition to designating the island as a "Major Non-NATO Ally."
In addition, the legislation will also direct the US government to engage with the Taiwanese government as a legitimate representative of the population on the island, prohibiting restrictions and limits regarding engagements between US officials and their Taiwanese counterparts, which contradicts US ongoing claims that they practice a one-china policy with regards to relations with Beijing.