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Archive for the ‘Forces Focus’ Category

822d Base Defense Squadron Supports Agile Flag 21-2

Friday, May 14th, 2021

NAVAL OUTLYING LANDING FIELD CHOCTAW, Fla. — The 822d Base Defense Squadron provided security and opposing forces for the 4th Fighter Wing, North Carolina, during Agile Flag 21-2, May 3-5, 2021.

Air Combat Command’s Agile Flag 21-2 tested the 4th FW’s ability to deploy as a lead air expeditionary wing from its main operating base at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, while supporting three forward operating bases, which included Naval Outlying Landing Field Choctaw, Florida.

“The (exercise) allowed several ACC units to come together and complete a realistic mission set,” said Tech. Sgt. Steven Ethridge, 822d BDS section chief. “The Air Battle Staff was made up of several functions to include civil engineering, security forces and communications. This allowed the members to understand how actual deployments could require working with other units to accomplish the mission. The 822d (BDS’) role in Agile Flag was to provide the 4th FW with a scalable security element at the FOB in order to facilitate integrated combat turns from multi-capable Airmen.”

Integrated combat turns are rapid refueling and rearming procedures that allow pilots to get back to the fight as soon as possible. Without a secure base to conduct ICTs, pilots would be unable to project airpower at faster rates.

“(Base defense Airmen) are highly trained and provide a light, lean and lethal force anywhere in the world,” Ethridge said. “We also bring capabilities such as Airborne and Air Assault, in addition to built-in support functions such as (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), medical, transportation maintenance and communications.”

The 822d BDS joined Agile Flag to augment the 4th FW’s security mission.

In addition to security, the base defense Airmen acted as opposing forces to simulate a near-peer adversary at the FOB. These forces are crucial because they inject realism into the training, allowing Airmen to sharpen their tactics, techniques and procedures for agile combat employment.

“These TTPs will allow current and future lead wings to project air power anywhere, anytime,” Ethridge said. “A team becomes a stronger and more lethal force when they help each other complete the common mission.”

ACC will conduct future exercises focusing on the ACE construct, and for the Airmen involved, the opportunity is invaluable.

“Any time we have an opportunity to address and experiment with force presentation and agile combat employment concepts … it’s a victory for our Air Force,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Frasch, ACC operations dynamic force employment chief. “We take what we learned and build on those (lessons) for the next iteration. The more we do this, the faster progress will come.”

Story by A1C Jasmine Barnes, 23d Wing Public Affairs

Hurlburt Squadron Provides C2 Advisors to Operational-Level Commanders

Monday, May 3rd, 2021

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla-With global competition heating up, the need to maximize the agility of U.S. Air Force operational command and control has never been more pressing. Fortunately, the USAF’s Operational Command Training Program is a foundational piece of its current C2 training architecture.

The OCTP team is a powerful tool designed to support every Air Component Command around the globe, yet too many operational level leaders are unfamiliar with the program and its value in optimizing mission success.

The OCTP team is made up of graduated C2 leaders who provide operational-level commanders with subject matter expertise, confidential peer-level advice, mentoring, training, and performance feedback. They’re not evaluators and the fact they’re not evaluators makes them a no-risk, candid resource for operational leaders.

“This team is plugged into AOCs and headquarter staffs around the world. They see what works, what doesn’t work, and they share those great ideas and lessons learned everywhere they go,” said Lt. Col. Kari Mott, 705th Training Squadron director of operations, Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Charter

Chartered in 2000 by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, OCTP is the USAF’s senior operational-level C2 training program, operating under the 505th Command and Control Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida, and consists of highly qualified expert-senior mentors and operational C2 observer trainers.

The majority of the senior mentors are retired general officers with experience as commanders of Air Force Forces, Joint Force Air Component Commanders, and Numbered Air Force Commanders. They support joint training exercises, USAF BLUE FLAG exercises, U.S. Army Warfighter exercises, as well as, advanced academics courses such as the JFACC course and senior-level Air Operations Center and staff courses.

The operational C2 observer trainers bring a wealth of experience in operations and planning from the O-6 perspective, as former AOC directors, AOC division chiefs, and/or AFFOR staff principals.

The number of observer trainers has varied over the years, but grew exponentially in 2018 as the USAF recognized a significant shortfall in C2 competency and expertise.  As a result, Air Combat Command tripled the size of the cadre, allowing the senior advisor team to support the full spectrum of air component leadership requirements, to include supporting multiple overlapping events and other C2 development initiatives.

The current cadre of observer trainers include a mix of government civilians and contractors with extensive active duty and reserve experience in flying operations, logistics, intelligence, and non-kinetic operations, among other specialties. Their main focus is working with AOC and air component division leaders, but they also work at the team level and with directors of Mobility Forces, directors of Cyber Forces, and directors of Space Forces.

“Despite a small pool of candidates with the necessary experience and skillsets, we assembled an exceptional team of professionals,” said Mott.

But their expertise goes well beyond just working in the air components.

“The depth of our observer trainers is truly amazing,” said Robin Kimmelman, OCTP flight lead, 705th TRS. “Our team includes former operational commanders, weapons school, and School of Advanced Air and Space Studies graduates. They’ve worked as DIRMOBFORs, in Checkmate, on joint staffs, and at the Air Staff, and they all possess the been-there-done-that leadership experience in AOCs, headquarters staffs, and on joint task forces. In other words, in terms of operational command and control, if you name it, someone on our team has probably done it.”

The 705th TRS is responsible for administering the OCTP program, fully mixing the team into its overarching operational C2 training mission. 

“Observer trainers provide knowledge and best practices honed across all AORs to help commanders and staffs improve their processes to meet emerging problem sets,” said Lt. Col. John Christianson, 705th TRS commander, Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Operational Exercises

On the road during exercises, senior mentors and observer trainers work closely together to support their training audience. Through daily meetings and other interactions, these subject matter experts are able to influence decisions across the air component to ensure the exercise participants are getting the most out of the exercise. If the participants are heading in the wrong direction, the team is there to help guide them back on course using their practical experience to drive learning, while passing personal lessons to help today’s leaders avoid past mistakes.

“What I enjoy most about my job is interacting one-on-one with a division chief during a short pause in the action to share a how I worked a situation similar to the scenario he faces…what worked and what blew up…it is always great to see that little nudge turn into a golden nugget that is forever learned by the training audience,” said William Murphey, operational C2 senior advisor for air mobility, 705th TRS.

The OCTP teams typically support exercises that include heavy AOC and AFFOR involvement, such as BLUE FLAG, Pacific Sentry, Austere Challenge, and Vigilant Shield, along with high-level training events in the Republic of Korea.

What’s Ahead

The OCTP team delivers much more than just exercise support. Throughout the pandemic, the OCTP team remains engaged through a myriad of other support activities, providing continued value to air components around the globe. 

Some of these efforts included development and publication of handbooks for AOC commanders, battle staff directors, and division chiefs, with more forthcoming in 2021. The team also created dozens of pre-exercise academic lessons and presented multiple advanced academic lessons for operational C2 leaders, both virtually and in the classroom at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

“While we plan to expand these C2 initiatives, we hope that 2021 also allows us to go back out on the road and continue our work face-to-face with air component teams in the field,” said Christianson.

In the meantime, business continues to grow for the senior advisor team, as their expertise is specifically demanded in support of Joint All-Domain C2 events, Chennault, Doolittle, and Schriever Wargames, and agile combat employment development and exercises. This direct, high-level, interaction continues to ensure each senior advisor remains current and relevant in terms of on-going C2 challenges and emerging concept development. Pulling from their collaboration within these venues, observer trainers share the latest information and benchmark details with peer operational C2 leaders in the field.

OCTP Tri-fold

For more information about the OCTP observer trainers, contact the team at: [email protected]

Debbie Henley, 505th Command and Control Wing (ACC) Public Affairs

COMACC visits Hurlburt’s 505th Command and Control Wing

Sunday, April 11th, 2021

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. — Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, visited the 505th Command and Control Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida, April 6. The 505th CCW is the U.S Air Force’s only wing dedicated to the Air Force’s core mission of command and control.

During his visit, Kelly toured the 505th CCW along with Chief Master Sgt. David Wade, command chief of ACC, to familiarize themselves with the wing’s C2 mission and the enlisted, officers, and civilians who execute its complex mission.

Gen. Kelly received an immersion brief, given by U.S. Air Force Col. Richard Dickens, commander of 505th CCW, leadership team, and honorary commanders.

Mr. Paul Lux, honorary commander of 505th CCW, and Ms. Cindy Frakes, honorary commander of 505th Test & Training Group shared how the ties they built during the wing’s last tour as part of 70 members from five Military Affairs Committees in the local area, prior to COVID-19, increased the proactive community voice for the 505th CCW and its mission.

U.S. Air Force Col. Francisco Gallei, commander of 505th TTG, discussed the group’s mission of premier testing, evaluation, training, and tactics development across C2, sensors, and battle management weapon systems.

Wade and Kelly learned that the 705th Training Squadron is the focal point for advanced Air Operations Center and Air Force Forces education and C2 process improvement. The squadron is launching the first Multi-domain Warfare Officer Instructor Upgrade Training course, which will begin in the next few months.

The leaders learned more about the unique C2 mission contributions of the wing’s units at Hurlburt Field, Florida, and the rest of its 13 geographically-separated units.

The 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, monitors, evaluates, optimizes, and integrates fixed and mobile long-range radars for both the operational and federal communities. The 84th RADES also sets the standard for sensor coverage prediction and depiction, providing data analysis and unique radar forensics to support search and rescue missions and aircraft mishap investigations.

The 505th Combat Training Group, headquartered at Nellis AFB, Nevada, expertly and professionally conducts operational assessments/experimentation, develops advanced tactics, and trains warfighters for multi-domain integration, said Dickens.

Dickens continued, the 505th CCW, Detachment 1, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, provides airpower expertise and exercise support to the U.S. Army Mission Command Training Program and liaisons to the Combined Arms Center.

After the briefing, Kelly toured the battlespace as personnel from the 505th Combat Training Squadron, 505th Communications Squadron, U.S. Army Joint Support Team, and 505th CCW, Det 1 were supporting U.S. Army Warfighter Exercise 21-4, a multi-national exercise.

COMACC learned how the 605th Test & Evaluation Squadron conducts operational test & evaluation of C2, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems, including Airborne Warning and Control System, Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, AOC, tactical air control party, Control and Reporting Centers, Air Defense Sectors, National Capital Region – Integrated Air Defense System, Distributed Common Ground Station, nuclear command, control, and communications, Common Mission Control Center, and other systems for the joint warfighter.

At the next stop, Wade and Kelly learned about the Advanced Programs’ building modernization efforts to enable the wing’s expanding missions. Despite these modernization efforts, they were briefed the current facility has been operating beyond capacity, which is why a consolidated Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility/Special Access Program Facility is the wing’s number one priority in the Area Development Plan.

Throughout the tour, Kelly seized several opportunities to recognize several of the 505th CCW’s best and brightest innovators for their exceptional performance.

• Senior Airman David Alvarado, 505th CTS
• Senior Airman Conner Kincaid, 505th CS
• Mr. Timothy Rincon, 605th TES
• Ms. Rhonda Berry, 505th CCW
• Capt. Stephen Perkins, 705th TRS
• Technical Sgt. Shanda Boyle, 505th Training Squadron

The tour’s final stop was the 505th TRS, the gateway for initial qualification training for all geographic and global Air Operations Centers. The squadron demonstrated how they train an operations team to oversee and ensure the general’s intent/directive is carried out from decision to action. While in the combat operations center, the leaders witnessed the team concept as each member carried out his/her responsibilities as dictated by the chief of combat operations during a training scenario that included a mock missile attack on Luke AFB, Arizona.

“It was great to host COMACC and Chief Wade,” said Col. Richard Dickens, commander of 505th CCW.  “We have a lot of high-performing Airmen that are valued members of our team, so seeing them get an opportunity to brief our senior leaders and demonstrate to them how they’re accelerating change was very rewarding.”

Headquartered at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, ACC is the primary provider of air combat forces to the U.S. warfighting commanders. The command provides command, control, communications, and intelligence systems; operates fighter, reconnaissance, battle-management, and electronic-combat aircraft; and conducts global information operations.

Story by 505th Command and Control Wing (ACC) Public Affairs

Photos by Mr. Keith Keel

5th SFAB, ‘Ghost Brigade,’ Complete First-of-Its Kind-Rotation

Monday, December 28th, 2020

FORT POLK, La. – The 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade completed a first-of-its kind-rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center’s 21-2 Rotation partnering an SFAB with a real-world unit, the Joint Base Lewis-McChord-based 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, “The Ghost Brigade,” in a decisive action validation exercise, Nov. 13-26, 2020.

“JRTC 21-02 was the culmination of 5th SFAB’s mission since its inception in June 2019 to man, equip, and train the Army’s newest combat brigade,” Brigade Operations Officer, Maj. Liam Walsh, said. “The training served as a proof of principle as the first SFAB Decisive Action CTC rotation.”

The Ghost Brigade closely integrated with SFAB Soldiers from the Brigade down to the Platoon level throughout the exercise.

“Our units worked alongside 5th SFAB, replicating the role of a professional, near-peer Allied army, which the SFAB was tasked to support as they would for a real-world partner force in the Indo-Pacific Command Area of Responsibility,” 1-2 SBCT Commander Col. Jared Bordwell said. “From the brigade to the individual levels, this rotation was all about supporting one another to make our team unbeatable.”

The SFAB is completely comprised of volunteers who were carefully vetted for service in the organization.

“This rotation has demonstrated that specially trained SFAB Soldiers, selected for their tactical expertise and professionalism, organized into small cohesive teams, and equipped with advanced communications systems can provide a decisive advantage to a threatened but capable foreign partner,” 5th SFAB Commanding General Brig. Gen. Curtis Taylor said.

Altogether, seven units participated in the rotation including the 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, 404th Army Field Support Brigade, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 2-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and the U.S. Marine Corps’ 6th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company.

Aviation support proved extremely critical during the rotation.

“The 16th CAB’s assets here allowed 5th SFAB to support 1-2 SBCT with a unique aviation capability of Apache and Blackhawk helicopters,” Brigade Aviation Officer, Maj. Ryan Hampton said. “Integrating recon, attack and lift assets for 1-2 SBCT’s scheme of maneuver allowed them to seamlessly expand their lethal reach across the battlefield.”

Hampton’s hard work in this regard earned him the title of, “Hero of the Battlefield” from JRTC Operations Group. Another Soldier recognized was 3rd Squadron Operations Advisor, Staff Sgt. Erica Myers.

“After training out here for two weeks, I really saw how diversity within our teams is a must,” Myers said. No one knows everything needed to successfully train alongside our partners, every Soldier is a crucial piece of the big picture.”

Myers’ also got the opportunity to advise several junior Soldiers from Ghost Brigade on the Raven Small Unmanned Aircraft System.

“They were certified but lacked confidence and understanding of their equipment,” Myers said. “The more time I had with them, the more confidence they gained. By the end of the rotation, I was able to get one of them their first solo flight and night flight.”

Myer’s Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Timothy Ferguson shared a similar sentiment following the exercise.

“Our experience during JRTC 21-02 was a tremendous learning opportunity as it enabled us to visualize our role in the organization,” Ferguson said. “We gained invaluable experience through live repetition with our partnered force while forcing us to adapt and develop strategies across the competition, crisis, and conflict phases.

The 5th SFAB is expected to continue sending Teams into the Indo-Pacific region alongside U.S. partners there.

“As we look across the world today, there are many potential crisis scenarios where this kind of capability is absolutely vital to deterring aggression against US Allies and Partners,” Brig. Gen. Taylor said.

The 5th SFAB officially activated in May 2020 and has since sent Soldiers on missions to Thailand and Indonesia. With JRTC complete, the 5th SFAB has been validated for worldwide deployment in support of U.S. Combatant Commanders’ priorities.

By Maj William Leasure, 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade Public Affairs

Marines Prepare for European Deployment

Sunday, November 29th, 2020

Marines with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment zeroed their weapon optics as one of the first training exercises they will be conducting with Marine Rotational Force Europe 21.1. Marines are preparing for arctic cold weather, mountain warfare training, and enhancing interoperability with our Norwegian Allies.

U.S. Marine Corps photos by 2nd Lt. Kayla Olsen and Lance Cpl. Patrick King

Force Recon Marines Conduct Combat Readiness Evaluation

Saturday, October 17th, 2020

Marines and Sailors with Charlie Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division participate in a Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation (MCCRE) at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, from Aug. 20 – 27, 2020. The Company completed multiple training events in order to show its units readiness and combat effectiveness throughout the exercise for their upcoming deployment with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. (US Marine Corps video by Cpl Israel Chincio)

Fifteenth Air Force Activates, Consolidates Air Combat Comand’s Conventional Forces – Includes Significant Amount of AF Ground Forces

Saturday, August 29th, 2020

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. (AFNS) —

Fifteenth Air Force activated Aug. 20, integrating wings and direct reporting units from Twelfth Air Force and Ninth Air Force to form a new Numbered Air Force responsible for generating and presenting Air Combat Command’s conventional forces.

ACC’s conventional capabilities include fighter, remotely piloted aircraft, command and control, and rescue flying units plus Air-Ground Operations Airmen who integrate Air Force capabilities in combined arms operations, the Air Force’s dedicated base defense group, RED HORSE, or Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron Engineers, and the agile combat support units that open and operate our bases. In addition to organizing, training, and equipping ACC’s conventional forces, this new NAF will also present a deployable joint task force-capable headquarters that can provide command and control of integrated ACC forces.

“Consolidating these forces into the Fifteenth Air Force is another step toward implementing the Air Force’s new force generation construct and will enable the delivery of dynamic and agile combat airpower as directed by the National Defense Strategy,” said Gen. Mike Holmes, commander or ACC. “This reorganization will streamline and improve the way we present our conventional forces as part of the new USAF construct, while honoring our history and the dedication of our Airmen.”

Following this transition, Twelfth Air Force will focus on its component role for U.S. Southern Command as 12 AF/AFSOUTH. Meanwhile, the existing Ninth Air Force will be inactivated and U.S. Air Forces Central Command will be re-designated as 9 AF/AFCENT.

The creation of the new NAF is part of a larger force optimization effort within ACC, which began with the stand-up of Sixteenth Air Force, a dedicated information warfare NAF, last fall.

Maj. Gen. Chad Franks received the guidon from Holmes, assuming responsibility for leading the more than 45,000 Airmen assigned to the new NAF.

“When I took command of the Ninth Air Force in June 2019, I stated we would focus on getting even better, so we could continue to deliver unmatched lethal fires for our joint and coalition partners wherever it is required,” Franks said. “Through our joint task force-capable mission and the advocacy for our units, we have done that. As the Fifteenth Air Force, we will continue to progress further toward that vision and provide a lean and agile mission command and control of forces to enable us to protect, deter, and deploy against emerging threats. Thank you for allowing me the great honor to be the commander of the Fifteenth Air Force and I look forward to visiting all of the units in the near future.”

The Fifteenth Air Force was first established in 1943 as the Mediterranean theater’s air force. After World War II, it served as one of the primary NAFs in Strategic Air Command deterring Cold War Soviet aggression before transferring to Air Mobility Command in 1992 as an expeditionary task force.

No units will be physically moving and the majority of affected Airmen will not experience changes in their day-to-day operations.

www.af.mil/News/Air-Force-TV/videoid/764061

By Staff Reports, Air Combat Command Public Affairs

USAF 36th Contingency Response Group Hosts Exercise Machete Green on Guam

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFNS) —

COVID-19 has disrupted many plans for governments, businesses and military operations but in some ways has created unique opportunities.

The 36th Contingency Response Group hosted and completed exercise Machete Green July 29-31, at Northwest Field. 

The exercise objectives were to open an airfield in a hostile and contested environment that teamed service members from the 36th CRG and the U.S. Navy’s Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25.

The 36th CRG normally, almost always, has a vast majority of its members from the expeditionary group traveling in support of real-world operations. However, due to COVID-19, the 36 CRG took advantage of the opportunity with many members present and in garrison to “sharpen their skill sets,” according to Col. Eric Schmidt, 36th CRG commander.

“This gives us an opportunity to come together and go through our mission sets,” Schmidt said. “It’s an opportunity to get some muscle movements on the exercise itself, which would be an air base opening in a contested environment.”

The 36 CRG enabled 107 warfighters the ability to hone their training techniques and procedures during EMG that focused on 85 tactical objectives that included: airfield survey, setting up defensive-fighting positions, temporary command center, and airfield withdrawal once the CRG’s objectives were completed.

“We are highly specialized,” Schmidt said. “All of these service members are getting an opportunity to do what they do, because everyone brings something different to the fight.”

Maj. Ryan Kiggins, 736th Security Forces Squadron commander, mentioned that opening an air base puts into practice tactics, techniques and procedures, or TTPs, that are employed in any environment that they could be sent to.

“This exercise will help validate and verify multiple positions and teams in order to maintain our quick-turn global-response capability,” Kiggins said.

Schmidt also mentioned that completing this exercise will improve sharing procedures with partners and allies to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“We are heavily invested in the PACAF, INDO-PACOM theater,” Schmidt said. “Currently, due to things outside our control, we have to exercise internally, but when restrictions ease in the future, we are looking to partner and build stronger relationships with our host-nation partners. One of the CRG’s primary goals is to bring the Koku Jieitai (Japan Air Self Defense Force) and Royal Australian Air Force into these exercises. Whenever we can work with a host nation or partner and work together in any kind of environment, developing those TTPs is important when we go have a joint fight together.”

Schmidt plans on leading the 36th CRG into more of these training events in the future.

“My plan is that our next exercise will focus on humanitarian assistance, and the following one, disaster response,” Schmidt said. “My main focus is to give our folks the opportunity to be out here working and training together. In my opinion, that’s a huge win in this environment and when we get tasked and go out the door. There is no doubt we will be ready.”

By SrA Michael S. Murphy, 36th Wing Public Affairs