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More Bombers Likely to Join Pressure Campaign Against North Korea: Goldfein

U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber aircraft from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, like the one pictured above, deployed in 2015 to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, as a routine deployment providing global strike capability and extended deterrence against potential adversaries in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joel Pfiester/Released)
U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber aircraft from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, like the one pictured above, deployed in 2015 to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, as a routine deployment providing global strike capability and extended deterrence against potential adversaries in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joel Pfiester/Released)

More bombers could fly to the Pacific -- even if for shorter missions -- in the U.S. military's pressure campaign against North Korea, the Air Force's top general said Thursday.

The B-52 Stratofortress or B-2 Spirit, both nuclear-capable, long-range bombers, could make appearances if top leadership in the Pacific sees fit, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon.

Recently, "We've actually had all three rotating through Andersen [Air Force Base, Guam]," he said, alongside Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. Goldfein was referring to the U.S.' continuous bomber presence mission.

A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber flew to the region last month to demonstrate the U.S.' commitment to partners and allies amid North Korea's frequent missile tests. The Spirit, from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, arrived days before President Donald Trump's first trip to Asia; it returned stateside a few days later.

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In 2016, all three strategic bombers -- the B-1B Lancer, B-2 and B-52 -- patrolled the Pacific in what was billed as the first-ever integrated bomber operation in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

"You're going to see B-52s, B-2s, and B-1s there on a continual rotation," Goldfein said. The Lancer is currently deployed in the region.

The non-nuclear B-1B replaced the B-52, known as the BUFF or "Big Ugly Fat Fellow," in the theater for the mission last August, marking the first time the B-1B has been housed at Andersen since 2006.

Goldfein said it's up to Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris to request aircraft as necessary for various exercises. The general noted the Air Force has been busy, even as North Korea continues to worry top U.S. leadership.

"We just flew over 14,000 sorties in the last three months alone, simultaneously supporting Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson in the pressure campaign against North Korea, global operations in Europe and the Middle East, and hurricane relief in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico," he said.

Goldfein reiterated the service is the smallest it's ever been for the missions it flies: only 55 fighter squadrons across the active duty, Guard and Reserve, as opposed to 134 during the Desert Storm era.

"There's no slack in the system," Goldfein said.

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