MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- “Our Air Force must accelerate change to control and exploit the air domain to the standard the nation expects and requires from us. If we don’t change – if we fail to adapt – we risk losing the certainty with which we have defended our national interests for decades,” stated Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. in the strategic approach document, "Accelerate Change or Lose."
Airmen from the 35th Fighter Wing are doing just that – accelerating and changing tactical operations to become a more responsive and lethal force.
Six 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcons and a crew of 45 Airmen from various squadrons simulated a mock deployment to an “austere” environment on the south ramp of the flightline. The designated location, which is not regularly used and not optimized for advanced operations, was utilized during a weeklong Agile Combat Employment (ACE) training exercise aimed at enhancing Multi-Capable Airmen’s (MCA) skillset at Misawa Air Base, Japan, 15 through 19 March.
MCA events are a unique opportunity for Airmen to train outside their primary career field and as part of a cross-functional team supporting aircraft recovery, refueling, reloading, and launching operations. By training airmen in these skills, the Air Force can send jets to more locations without having to send additional airmen to generate, sustain, and recover aircraft throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
“The participating MCA are using their newly crafted skills to assist the maintainers (minimally manned on ACE teams) with generating sorties,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jeremy Snowden, the 35th FW inspector general director of ACE development. “The tasks MCA are performing are marshalling, refueling and rearming and squadron aviation resource management.”
In addition to generating sortie, the new cargo deployment function (CDF) process occurred in a more centralized location for the cargo heavy units which allowed for a shorter processing timetable.
This process was first implemented during the Dec. 2020 ACE event. Airmen have since practiced it in the following months with dramatic results.
“During the last several months we have aggressively worked our ACE footprint and with the centralized CDF location, have decreased the CDF process time by more than 60 percent,” Snowden explained.
The ACE concept was originally validated by Pacific Air Forces under the command of Gen. Brown in 2017, and it directly supports U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s priorities for the Department of Defense.
During a joint press availability in Tokyo, on 16 March, Secretary of Defense Austin said, “Our goal is to make sure that we maintain a competitive edge over China or anyone else that would want to threaten us or our alliance, and that we develop the operational plans and capabilities to be able to deter any aggressor, China or anyone else, that would want to take us or the alliance on.”
Through ACE, the 35th FW maintains that competitive edge over adversaries; and executes their mission – to protect U.S. interests in the Pacific and defend Japan; and deter adversaries through presence, readiness, and ability to project agile combat air power.