KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- U.S. Air Force service members from the Pacific Air Forces participated in Operation Pacific Iron, a PACAF dynamic force employment operation taking place in July 2021. Kadena Air Base, home of the 18th Wing, was an indispensable asset in the operation, providing communications throughout PACAF via the Command and Control operation center.
“We’re focusing a lot more on communications and Command and Control, so we have the ability to talk to forces that are in Hickam and forces in the second-island chain, that are a long distance away from us,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Tyler Studeman, the 18th Wing Agile Combat Employment Office director.
The C2 node is a mission-essential centralized hub for PACAF, providing communication and distribution of intel between all participants of Pac Iron, while replicating an operation center in a contested environment. “The C2 aspect is simple to replicate,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. David Tharp, alternate Director of Operations of the C2 Node. “We put a tent out there and disconnect from the world, and now we have to reconnect with the sensors, antennas and stuff we would normally bring out.”
While the C2 is a necessity for informative purposes, it also allows Kadena to hone their ACE training ability.
Service members managed to construct the operation center, composed of tents, communication fly-away kits, generators and HVAC units in the span of a few hours, despite working in the stifling Okinawan sun. This was made possible through the Multi-Capable Airmen course, designed to organize, train and equip Airmen to be more agile in mission execution, strategic in deterrence and resilient in capabilities. This is accomplished by taking airmen from certain Air Force Specialty Codes and training them in other career fields, allowing airmen to be proficient at duties outside their primary AFSC.
“The ACE concept is where the Air Force is moving,” said Tharp. “So, it’s important that we’re ready to do that and be the best at it.”