WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
The B-2 Combined Operations Building, or COB, opened April 23, enhancing Total Force Integration between active duty and Air National Guard Airmen, and strengthening ties between the 509th and 131st Bomb Wings.
The 393rd and 110th Bomb Squadrons will now be working together in one building along with the 509th Operations Support Squadron, allowing these units to coordinate missions together, with unprecedented interoperability, as they take advantage of this advanced, 8,000 square foot facility.
“The COB is the one stop shop for everything our B-2 warrior’s need,” said Lt. Col. Luke Lucero, 509th Operations Group deputy commander. “Our pilots will now show up to one building, get everything they need, then step to the most lethal aircraft ever designed.”
The facility will house everything from weather forecasting and airfield management to aircrew flight equipment and combat mission planning.
“Having our operations co-located under one roof will enable a greater combined effort between units,” Lucero said. “This will pay dividends to this nation well into the 21st century.”
The structure features 483 miles of fiber optic line capable of transferring massive amounts of data with great speed allowing for superior communication and coordination between units. This innovation will ensure the facility is prepared for the future of modern warfare.
“The COB will bring intelligence, operations and flyers into one building equipped with all the tools and technology they need to excel at their mission,” said Lt. Gen. Thomas A. Bussiere, Deputy Commander of United States Strategic Command. “This will enhance the lethality and efficiency of what is already one of STRATCOM’s most valued assets.”
Bussiere was a B-2 instructor pilot from 1996 to 1999 and during that time saw the need for a facility that would house all aspects of that aircraft’s operations.
“To put how long the COB has been in the works into perspective, I was still Capt. Bussiere when we first started brainstorming this,” Bussiere said. “Fast-forward to 2021, now I’m walking through the building, and seeing the vision that is the result of a lot of hard work from a lot of fantastic people.”
The facility is an attempt to create the ultimate B-2 operations building with flight records, aircraft trainers, combat plans, the B-2 step desk, long range communications, intelligence, mission planning, admin offices and aircrew alert facilities all housed within the same structure.
“It’s now the gold standard for operations buildings,” Bussiere said. “It’s the first of its kind and I think we’ll see it replicated across STRATCOM and the Air Force.”
The creation of the COB was the result of the partnership between various military and civilian organizations, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers playing a key role.
“This facility marks 25 years of proud partnership between the Army Corps of Engineers and the B-2 program,” said U.S. Army Col. William Hannan, commander of the Kansas City District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “This building is only the latest result of our years of shared history.”
Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, U.S. Representative for Missouri's 4th Congressional District, has been a longtime supporter of the COB and attended the facility’s recent opening, as well as its groundbreaking in 2019.
“When I was first elected in 2011, I met with the commanders on this base and heard Airmen were on alert, about to undertake these incredible missions, and they were sleeping in trailers on the flight line,” Hartzler said. “I thought we could do better … Our troops deserve better.”
Hartzler stood side-by-side with Col. Jeffery T. Schreiner, 509th Bomb Wing commander, as they cut the ceremonial ribbon, opening the newly built facility that had been envisioned so many years prior.
“I remember in early 2002, we had two operations squadrons packed into one small building,” Schreiner said. “There was never enough room for us and often we’d be huddling together in a basement to plan operations. I hoped I’d at least see the beginning of construction for a new building.”
Nearly two decades later, that new building is here.
“This facility looks like a fortress,” Schreiner said. “I think that’s very fitting because it speaks to what we do. We’re the defenders, we’re the avengers, we’re the first into the fight. When you combine the manpower, the brainpower, and the firepower that we bring, this is the deadliest building on the planet.”