An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | Feb. 22, 2021

Multi-capable Airmen ‘Agile Combat Employment’ Training at Cope North 21

Senior Airman Jonathan Valdes

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --
Somewhere above the vast Pacific Ocean, a fighter aircraft has flown for hours, and its fuel supply is running low. Unable to return to its home station for fuel, that's when Agile Combat Employment (ACE) comes into play. Down below on a small island, three Airmen are waiting to refuel the aircraft and rapidly launch it back into the fight.

“ACE is this warfighting concept that the Pacific Air Forces is trying to operationalize, and we’re doing a pretty good job of it,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Jared Hutchinson, Cope North 2021 exercise director and 35th Operations Group commander at Misawa Air Base, Japan. “The basic concept behind it is that we use our agility to disperse off our main operating bases, and then we execute in a decentralized or more autonomous manner, which allows us to be much more resilient in a contested environment.”

A focal training point for Cope North 21 was to test the ACE multi-capable Airmen concept with our partner nation, Japan.

This concept involves teaching personnel how to complete tasks outside of their assigned Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC). At Cope North, Airmen and members of the Koku-Jieitai were divided into three-person teams, acting as two crew chiefs and a fuels technician. U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Todd Johnson is a standards and evaluations assistant flight chief assigned to the 36th Contingency Response Squadron (CRS) at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. As a member of the CRS, Johnson could be out the door at a moment’s notice responding to a crisis anywhere in the region, making him a prime candidate for the multi-capable Airmen training.

“If an individual is responsible for completing a task and is unable to do so, it’s very important that the person to his left or right is trained and able to complete the task at hand,” he said. “When you’re on the road, it’s nice to be able to help your counterparts and can become necessary for you to fill their shoes if something unexpected were to happen.”

Unfamiliar at first with the capability, Johnson used a national pastime to explain ACE.

“Think of it like a pit stop in NASCAR. If you have a well-trained and organized team, then a jet will be able to land, get a safety check, get refueled and ready to get back in the sky in just minutes,” he said.

The ACE training consists of three phases: Phase one is classroom academics. Phase two is hands-on training and familiarization with the aircraft. Phase three is real-world execution.

“During academics we covered the requirements for hot-pit refuels including how each area should be set up, the personnel required, skill level and qualifications of each member,” Johnson said. “We also covered both the F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-35A Lightning II hot-pit refuel procedures, danger areas, hand signals and safety measures required to perform the task safely and efficiently.”

Phase 3 took place on Feb. 15 and 16 with Johnson and his team heading out to Northwest Field to put their skills to the test. They hot-pit refueled an F-16 Fighting Falcon and an F-35A, completing all the phases of ACE.

According to U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dustin Mustach, ACE operations have come a long way in such a short time.

“We are no longer taking baby steps with ACE, we are making leaps proving we can operate anywhere,” said Mustach, an F-16 Fighting Falcon crew chief assigned to the 13th Fighter Squadron at Misawa Air Base, Japan. “This ACE operation is going to be a massive reference point for multiple bases. Future ACE operations will be prepared faster, making goals more attainable, which will eventually lead to ACE having much larger goals.”

As the old saying goes 'with practice comes mastery,' and the exercises at Cope North 21 worked towards that goal.

“What we learned is only going to improve with repetition,” said Johnson. “As ACE and MCA continue to develop and find its place in the Air Force, what we've accomplished and learned this Cope North is going to help build and pave the road for future MCA.”
CONNECT WITH USINDOPACOM
Facebook

Like Us
Twitter
337,139
Follow Us

ENGAGE & CONNECT MORE WITH PACOM

                                                 

IN THE USINDOPACOM NEWS
U.S., South Korea Want Peace in Indo-Pacific
Jan. 31, 2023 - Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III stressed that the goal of the U.S.-South Korean alliance is peace — not conflict — following meetings in Seoul, South Korea, today.The secretary made the remarks at a news conference...

U.S. Army Advisors Strengthen Partnership in Thailand
Sgt. 1st Class Justin Babb takes part in close quarters battle rehearsals with members of the Royal Thai Army. Babb is part of an SFAB Team assigned to Force Package 23-1, the 5th SFAB's forward-deployed element.
Jan. 31, 2023 - NAKHON NAYOK, Thailand – Three Advisor Teams from 2nd Battalion, 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade partnered with the Royal Thai Army across Thailand during a multi-month rotation into theater beginning in October 2022...

U.S. Indo-Pacific Commander Travels to Papua New Guinea
Indo-Pacific Command, traveled to Papua New Guinea
Jan. 30, 2023 - PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea -- Admiral John C. Aquilino, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, traveled to Papua New Guinea January 29-30 to underscore the U.S. commitment to advance shared interests toward building a...

Austin Looks to Build on Strengths of Alliances With South Korea, the Philippines
In this file photo, an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the “Blue Diamonds” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146 approaches for an arrested landing aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz is in 7th Fleet conducting routine operations. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with 35 maritime nations in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
Jan. 30, 2023 - WASHINGTON -- The security environment in the Indo-Pacific is growing more complex and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III will meet with allies in the Republic of Korea and the Philippines to continue efforts to...

Australia, Japan, U.S. Stand Up Multinational Task Force for Cope North
Jan. 30, 2023 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Air forces from Australia, Japan, and the United States have begun arriving in Guam to establish the command and control multinational task force for Cope North (CN) 2023, which runs...