UNDISCLOSED LOCATION, U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, June 9, 2020 —
For approximately three weeks, more than 230 Airmen assigned to U.S. Air Forces Central Command conducted an Agile Combat Employment exercise to test the command’s ability to project airpower from an austere location within U.S. Central Command’s 20-nation area of responsibility.
The AFCENT Air Warfare Center led the ACE, along with personnel from AFCENT staff directorates, and conducted exercises to build military-to-military relationships, tactical capabilities, and interoperability through air operations to promote readiness and stability in the region.
An advance movement of personnel set up all the necessary mission support functions and communication nodes in order to receive the main body of deployers. Various airlift platforms delivered the remaining supplies, equipment, and subject matter experts to round out the expeditionary unit.
“Setting up the forward operating location was crucial to mission execution,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Vaughn Brazil, air defense liaison team senior officer. “Agile combat support sets up the framework, mission support systems and processes, allowing the operators to execute the flying mission.”
Over the following weeks, a formation of U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, KC-135 Stratotankers, and KC-10 Extenders arrived, set up operations and demonstrated their abilities to project power from a remote location. Additionally, they worked closely with the host nation Air Force to solidify tactics, techniques, and procedures, easing barriers to future operations.
The refuelers amplified the on-station time and array of mission sets available for the F-16s to exercise. Also, they provided flexible response options for the Combined Forces Air Component Commander in executing global reach aerial refueling capability, supporting airpower throughout the region.
“The forward deployed U.S. force launched more than 130 aircraft sorties and displayed the team’s ability to deter adversaries and opponents seeking to disrupt peace in the region,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John Harris, vice commander of the AFCENT AWC. “This agility can also be used for the entire spectrum of operations, from military operations other than war, all the way to full-scale conflict.”
As with any mission, there stands a force of Airmen from a plethora of career fields fulfilling a critical need, ensuring the overall mission is conducted smoothly and efficiently. The synergy of Airmen executing multiple lines of effort is what makes an ACE an effective strategy to address the dynamic demands throughout the area of responsibility.
As the exercise concluded and the last aircraft departed, returning Airmen back to the fight throughout the region, AFCENT once again proved its ability to project Airmen to successfully execute airpower.
“Our Airmen really came together as a cohesive unit, partnered with our host nation, worked through problem sets and got the job done,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Thomas Wolfe, commander of the AFCENT AWC. “I could not be more proud of all the hard work and dedication from my team making the mission happen to generate combat airpower in the area of responsibility.”