366th FW/A2 Intel trains new combat employment strategy
By By Airman 1st Class Nicholas Swift, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 18, 2020
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho --
In the lush humid jungle along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, Airmen tread through thick vegetation to a clearing where they assemble a TM60 tent and communication system, to support remote on-the-fly fighter wing operations at a moment's notice.
This is the vision of Agile Combat Employment, or ACE, the Air Forces’ newest deployment concept that would allow forces to be quickly dispersed and relocated to fight the enemy head on.
“ACE came about as the threat environment evolved in Pacific Command,'' said Captain Menji “Banshee” Chiem, 366th Fighter Wing A2 (Intel) weapons chief. “Since being stationed there, I’ve seen it grow to be an effort pushed by the highest levels of Air Force leadership. It forces us to move quickly and often increases the survivability of our assets and people, while making it complicated for our adversaries to target us.”
The 366th FW/A2 section was finally able to put these concepts to the test on June 3, 2020, deploying it for the first time in their own backyard at Mountain Home AFB.
“We’ve laid out specific objectives we’re looking to accomplish,” Chiem said. Then we’ll measure how well we met those objectives and identify the contributing factors that led to our success or failure.We’ll then share the lessons learned with Air Combat Command, who’ll use our recommendations to set the MAJCOM standard.”
In a real world scenario, A2 leadership would operate out of a large TM60 tent called the Mission Planning Cell, or MPC. Simultaneously, three smaller TM18 tents would forward deploy and relay information back to the MPC. Each of the smaller forward deployed teams would use a multi-mission toolset, called a Zeus Kit, that enables A2 to connect to all Air Force networks from any forward operating base or remote location.
“From an A2 perspective, ACE is operating in any environment, regardless of the competitor, while providing decision quality data to wing war-fighters,” said Maj. Micheal “Sarin” Maynard, 366th FW/A2 (Intel) director. “The major difference between now and the past is the realization that we will be challenged in the both physical and cyber battle-space. Now, we are ready for both.”
A2 introduced each Airmen to the new equipment, its use and both the assembly and disassembly of it. They prioritized accuracy and procedure over speed for the initial training, although speed will be a priority in future training exercises.
By learning these skills and techniques they will be able to maintain themselves while communicating solutions that will support any assets on the field or in the air.
“Our team will be 100% self-sufficient,” Maynard said. “We will train to set up our own structure, manage our own power and bring in our own solutions that enable us to continue to provide unparalleled support to the war-fighters.”
ACE concepts are designed to excel in austere environments.
“It is not to say we don’t need or want help, but the environment may call for us to operate alone,” Maynard said.
In addition, each team will be capable of handling any intel task independently. Therefore, reducing the risk of losing our intel capabilities if a team were to go down.
“Internally, our Airmen will be trained in each other’s primary roles and responsibilities, making them more knowledgeable and capable Airmen,” Maynard said. “While this makes our at home training more complex, it makes our support sustainable and survivable in any environment.”
Overall progress has been well received internally, and the more training A2 is exposed to, the closer they get to making ACE a reality.
“What was needed to make this concept a reality was a bit of humility,” Maynard said. “I believe we are the best force for good in the world, but there are other competitors stepping up their capabilities. ACE is a key enabler that will allow us to outpace our adversary and continue to provide winning solutions to the war-fighter.”