A B-1B Lancer takes off from Ellsworth Air Force Base in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn. This mission marked the first time the B-1 fleet has launched combat sorties from the continental United States to strike targets overseas. / © U.S. Air Force photo / Staff Sgt. Marc I. Lane
March 29 - B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing launched early Sunday, March 27 from their home station of Ellsworth Air Force Base to strike targets in Libya in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn.
"Nearly 700 Ellsworth Airmen are currently deployed around the world supporting existing overseas contingency operations," said Col. Jeffrey Taliaferro, 28th Bomb Wing commander, "But this week, the nation called again, and the Airmen of Ellsworth rallied and answered."
With less than two days from first notice to takeoff, Ellsworth Airmen generated several aircraft and hundreds of weapons to provide the combat configuration needed halfway across the globe. A challenging task in the best of conditions, their work was made especially difficult by dismal weather, including four inches of snow, glare ice, and freezing fog.
"Our Airmen make Airpower look easy," Colonel Taliaferro said, "but it is hard work -- blood, sweat, and commitment across the whole wing -- that put bombs on target on the other side of the world."
A no-fly zone was imposed by the United Nations in Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorizes military action in order to ensure the protection of the Libyan people and compliance with the conditions of the resolution. This strike was in support of the international coalition's overall goals to protect Libyan civilians targeted by Colonel Qadhafi and his forces, reduce the Libyan regime's ability to defy the no-fly zone, and enhance protection of coalition air forces responsible for implementing it.
While the specific targets of this historic mission could not be disclosed, officials stated that coalition forces are striking targets that pose a direct threat either to the civilian population or to partner nation aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone. Targets such as Libyan military sites and air defense systems have been carefully selected to reduce their attack capabilities while minimizing risk to the civilian population.
Of note, this mission marked the first time the B-1 fleet has launched combat sorties from the continental United States to strike targets overseas.