Joint Coalition Forces simulated a Joint Forcible Entry maneuver against a simulated enemy-held airbase during Air Mobility Command’s flagship Exercise Mobility Guardian, Sept. 13-14.
U.S. Army soldiers from Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division and U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Liaison Officers from the 621st Mobility Support Operations Squadron preformed a nighttime airborne assault jump out of several C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster IIIs into simulated enemy territory where they simulated seizing control of an airfield and neighboring city to ensure U.S., Canadian and Australian Royal Air Force Airmen could enter and reestablish it as an operating, allied airfield.
The operation consisted of two phases.
Phase one: Joint Forcible Entry
“It started about 120 hours ago,” said U.S. Army Col. Andrew Saslav, 1st Brigade Combat Team commander, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. “We entered a 96-hour sequence where we set up an airborne assault onto this airfield and seize it from [opposing] militia forces.”
Approximately 500 JFE Soldiers and AMLO Airmen landed and fought to seize the airfield, engage enemies and push to gain more territory.
“The importance of JFE is the ability to deploy anywhere within 96 hours and provide stateside aid to the U.S. and its interests,” said U.S. Army Capt. James Sides, 82nd AD logistician. “For instance, an airfield like we seized today, we can start rolling in heavy equipment beyond enemy lines.”
Should an assault of this magnitude become necessary in a real-world scenario, several aspects of this training involved real-world elements that helped strengthen all players involved. For example, the U.S. Army Soldiers and AMLO Airmen received a last-minute call for their aid to seize the airbase.
“It makes it even more realistic because we’re putting paratroopers on aircraft from Fort Bragg and then flying six hours away,” Sides said. “That [allows us to troubleshoot problems like] ‘How are they going to rig?’ ‘Are they going to get full combat equipment?’ In addition to troubleshooting those problems, it’s also terrain we haven’t seen before.”
With the assault complete, supporting forces could now move in and start the next phase.
Phase 2: Stabilization of the airbase
Once U.S. Army troops and AMLO Airmen secured the airbase, U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing were able to land and unload cargo such as Humvees, generators and other equipment needed to open the airfield and sustain the airbase as either a U.S. or international partner’s territory.
“We have to have Air Force personnel who will bring [C-17’s and C-130’s] and land them; those reinforcements allow us to expand off of the drop zone,” Saslav said. “We have to have [U.S. Air Force] Security Forces arrive so we can leave the airfield and continue to fight forward.”
To ensure the area is safe and secure after the Soldiers moved on from the JFE maneuver, U.S. Air Force Security Forces Airmen performed safety and security checks.
“There’s a checklist I run, it’s mainly to answer questions,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan McCarthy, 821st Security Forces Squadron patrolman from Travis Air Force Base, California. “For example, are there hardened shelters, is there an Entry Control Point, and is there a fence line?”
Joint Warfighting Success
This exercise allowed U.S. Air Force Airmen and U.S. Army Soldiers to work together, learn more about each other’s individual branch processes and how to overcome their differences to work as a team.
“Everything you do with coalition and joint partners, it’s not like it used to be where the Army controls the land and the Air Force controls the air,” Sides said. “We have to work together, especially as a coalition, now. Everyone is so interconnected, so you have to be able to play nice with each other.”
Through strategic planning, Rapid Global Mobility and force development, U.S. and allied forces were able to seize, sustain, and takeover an airbase quickly. This was just one of many situations during Mobility Guardian 2019 that brought joint and international forces together to develop a more lethal and ready force.