“There’s not any discussion or plans to bring bombers on a 24-hour nuclear alert right now,” Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas said during a Monday Pentagon briefing, Military.com reports.
On Sunday, US Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein told Defense One that preparations were underway to put the B-52 Stratofortresses on constant standby. “This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared,” the official said. “I look at it more as not planning for any specific event, but more for the reality of the global situation we find ourselves in and how we ensure we’re prepared going forward,” he also noted.
If the order had been given, which it so far has not, it would have been the first implementation of the “strip alert” policy since the end of the Cold War.
Regarding facility upgrades at US air bases that might be used to put the bombers back on alert, particularly runway renovations at the Barksdale, Louisiana, Air Force base where the bombers would sit 24 hours a day if the order actually was given, Thomas said “we’re routinely upgrading our facilities. Whether it’s Barksdale or Offutt [Air Force Base, Nebraska] or other locations.”
“[Civil engineers] are always able to take the limited tax dollars we have and be able to keep [facilities] in a high state of readiness,” the Defense Department official added.
"Could we do the mission? We could stand that up very quickly,” Thomas said, but the decision would have to come from US Strategic Command, he noted.