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Barksdale's Air Giants Play Role in Foreign Relations - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Barksdale's Air Giants Play Role in Foreign Relations

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SHREVEPORT - BOSSIER CITY -

When you think of Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, you immediately think of the home of the B-52. It has the muscle to strike blows against our enemies a world away, but it also has a softer, important side in building relationships and friendships with military personnel from other nations.

Last year, a B-52 touched down in the city of Ostrova (Shreveport's sister city) during NATO Days.  NATO Days is like an air show.  Barksdale Air Force Officials say the B-52's presence during events like this goes a long way in promoting peace, security and support in the global war on terror.

 Brigadier General Jiři Verner is the recent Chief of Staff of the Czech Republic Air Force.  He is  currently the new Attaché in Washington, DC. He's basically an adviser to the Czech  Ambassador.

Verner has a very good relationship with Barksdale and has made several visits to the base, including one last week.  Colonel Joe Jones often plays host to General Verner and says the Czech Republic have become very good allies.

"We have become friends and family--the citizens of Ostrova, Prague and the Czech Republic in general, and it's been a labor of love," says Jones.

The relationship between the U.S. and the Czech Republic, formerly Czechoslovakia,  during the Cold War years was not always a good one. Until 1993, it was part of a communist satellite state to the Soviet Union. During WWII, before the Iron Curtain fell over Eastern Europe, the region forged an unlikely bond with Americans. Citizens of a the Czech city of Ostrova provided care for survivors of a Barksdale B-17 crew and planes shot down by German forces.

After the break-up of the Soviet Union, those ties are again allowed to blossom as the U.S. fosters other relationships, both new and old, with other NATO member nations.  There are 28 members total.

For example, you may have military personnel from  France, Spain, Latvia or Slovakia fly into Barksdale for friendly meetings and to see the giants of the air.  In fact, Spain was the jumping off point for B-52's that fired some of the first shots against Iraq in Operation Desert Storm, and the Czech Republic is currently fighting alongside U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Most importantly, Barksdale is one of our nation's key military installations, but it's worth noting that Barksdale also has an important diplomatic role in strengthening ties with men and women who fight as allies alongside the United States. 

 

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