Agile, Mobile: MHAFB adaptive basing training

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Tyrell Hall
  • 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

MHAFB conducted an adaptive basing exercise July 17th, 2019, in order to Spark innovation by finding new and versatile methods for air operations.

The Gunfighter team practiced adaptive basing strategies by constructing a training exercise and utilizing a simulated air strip to optimize their training.

Adaptive basing is a strategy by which fighter aircraft can land in austere environment, re-fit, re-arm and get back into the air with minimum delay.

“This is the first time the base is practicing adaptive basing in this way,” said Lt. Col. Travis Stephens, 391st Fighter Squadron commander. “Even if we’re using just a few aircraft this time, it will introduce a new way of building Unit Type Codes (UTC) and deploying this different kind of construct.”

To accomplish the training, the 389th and 391st Fighter Squadrons worked with their aircraft maintainers, weapons load crew chiefs and the 366th Security Forces Squadron to set up a simulated austere airstrip setting on MHAFB.

Weapons load crew chiefs play a vital role in adaptive basing as they are entrusted with re-arming fighter aircraft with timeliness and efficiency, enabling them to continue the fight with minimal delay.

“We would deploy into a rural environment and land with aircrew,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Strong, 389th FS weapons load crew chief. “From there we would focus on turning the jets and getting them off the ground as soon as possible, then relocate to another airstrip.”

Maintainers are charged with supplying aircraft with needed repairs and routine maintenance in order to ensure they can continue to support the mission unhindered.

Before personnel can establish the airstrip, security forces are tasked with setting a security perimeter and ensuring assets are protected. This is especially important for downrange operations.

“We’re trying to reshape the future of Air Force deployment strategies,” Stephens said.

This construct gives units the flexibility to deploy a small package of aircraft and work alongside maintenance operations and security forces to conduct agile base operations in various locations within an area of responsibility (AOR).

Stephens explained the focus is to remain in control of the skies while simultaneously avoiding vulnerability inside of enemy reach. Personnel rotate shifts, allowing crews to rest, refit and maintain constant control over an air space.

“Think of it like a hive; personnel are positioned in multiple locations,” Stephens said. “We land, turn aircraft with efficiency, re-arm, assign targets and push back into bad guy territory to continue the mission.”

Stephens went on to explain the Air Force has always been a centralized control construct. With adaptive basing the Air Force moves towards a decentralized control construct, which will act as the cornerstone of the adaptive basing platform.

In a centralized control construct, orders travel from the highest level downward. In a decentralized control construct, levels of authority are shifted down, enhancing unit flexibility and expediting the decision-making process in operations.

“This is really the cutting edge of agile basing,” said Lt. Col. Rodrick James, 389th FS commander. “We are applying all the concepts across multiple career fields to employ from a non-traditional airfield environment to enhance the survivability and lethality of the Gunfighter team.”

James explained MHAFB is taking an operational concept and applying it to an exercise to uncover the most efficient strategies for the 366th FW.

“Tactical employment from an agile base keeps the 366th Fighter Wing inside the enemy’s process of observation, orientation, decision and action,” James said. “We are able to move quickly while the enemy is still in the observation phase, thus increasing survivability before the enemy decides to act.”

James explained translating the strategic vision into tactical execution is what MHAFB is doing with the adaptive basing exercise.

“We get to see the strength of the team come together to provide combat power in small packages from austere locations,” James said.

Through adaptive basing, MHAFB aims to capitalize on air operation versatility by enabling fighters to land, re-arm and rapidly return to the skies from unfamiliar locations, fulfilling the Air Force mission of establishing and maintaining air superiority.