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NEWS | Oct. 26, 2021

Andersen AFB Supports Agile Combat Employment Reaper

By Staff Sgt. Divine Cox 36th Wing Public Affairs

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- For the first time ever, an MQ-9 Reaper, from the 53rd Wing at Eglin AFB, Florida and assigned to the 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, flew to Andersen AFB, Guam from Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii in support of Exercise Ace Reaper.

Ace Reaper was a combined 432nd Wing, 49th Wing, and 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Creech AFB Agile Combat Employment exercise focused on MQ-9 and its operations within INDOPACOM.

Agile Combat Employment, or ACE, focuses on the ability to move aircraft rapidly to a network of a smaller airfields in the Western Pacific to avoid being targeted by Chinese missiles in the event of war.

“From the wing’s perspective, the purpose of ACE Reaper was immediate response force (IRF) operations, basically, how quickly can we get into theater and begin executing sustained operations,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Chmielewski, 556 TES commander. “From our perspective, it was a trial run and data collecting event for our supplement to the Pacific Air Forces ACE concept of employment (CONEMP) to assess how the MQ-9 will execute hub and spoke operations. The hub for this exercise was Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii and the spoke AAFB. We set out to assess our planned lean logistics footprint, quick turn procedures, and auto takeoff and land capability, as well as bring the Multi-Capable Airman (MCA) mentality into the MQ-9 community.”

Chmielewski continued with stating that this exercise was not only important to prove that the MQ-9 can quickly get into this theater and setup operations, but it was also important to prove that the logistics behind the new tactics and equipment being used will make the MQ-9 even more agile.

Overcoming numerous hurdles to include typhoons and logistical delays, the MQ-9 and its team were able to accomplish the mission it set out for here on Andersen.

“We were able to validate operations using a very lean logistics footprint, the auto takeoff and land capability, and forward operations without the standard launch and recovery equipment and aircrew,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Miller, operations officer assigned to the 556 TES. “We will use the data collected and apply our lessons learned to the draft CONEMP and continue testing it in other Large Force Exercises within INDOPACOM, like Valiant Shield 2022. We will evolve the MQ-9 ACE TTPs and deliver a validated CONEMP supplement to the theater Combatant Commanders for MQ‑9 ACE and where the MQ-9 can best fill gaps and contribute to the Joint Force in theater.”

No one exercise is accomplished independently and it takes a team to get the mission done.

“We are grateful for the support from Team Andersen (and the 49th WG and 432th WG) to enable this exercise to happen,” said Chmielewski. “The flexibility and ability to accommodate us for the consistently changing operations was critical and without it, our operations would have stopped at K-Bay.”

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