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​​Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh addresses airmen at Phoenix Sky Harbor ANGB, Ariz., March 22, 2015. Air National Guard photo by TSgt. Courtney Enos​​

The Air Force’s move to ​put the B-1 fleet into Air Force Global Strike Command was meant in part to pave the way for deployment of the Long-Range Strike Bomber, said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh on Wednesday. The beddown of LRS-B is “starting to sneak up on us, now,” and plans called for it to go into Air Combat Command, explained Welsh in his speech at a Defense One symposium in Washington, D.C. However, the 2008 Schlesinger Task Force's report—written in the wake of the Air Force’s mistaken transfer of nuclear cruise missiles from one base to another—suggested consolidating all three fleets of bombers: B-1B, B-2A, and B-52H. While this was not the “main” recommendation, and while the Air Force intended to do it, “we just felt at the time there were other changes … being made that we needed to get in place [and] get stabilized” first, said Welsh. Because LRS-B will replace the B-1 “eventually,” he said, the decision was made to “get the organizational structure set up, make it mature, before the [LRS-B] actually shows up. So that was the logic behind it.”