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NEWS | March 3, 2023

Behind the Scenes of the Exercise Agile Reaper 23-1 and the 3rd Air Expeditionary Wing

By Airman 1st Class Julia Lebens JBER Public Affairs

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles on the 3rd Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW), how it is constructed, and how Exercise Agile Reaper 23-1 is conducted.

Members of the 673d Air Base Wing and 3rd Wing joined together to plan and conduct Exercise Agile Reaper 23-1 as the 3rd Air Expeditionary Wing at Andersen Air Force Base and the Northern Mariana Islands, March 1-10.

With a focus on Agile Combat Employment, members of many Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, agencies executed this exercise with support from other Air Force bases. These include Kadena Air Base and Yokota Air Base, Japan; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; and Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

At Andersen AFB, some of these members provide support from the Wing Operations Center, where representatives from the 3rd AEW’s A- and Special Staffs work together to ensure the success of this exercise. A-Staff includes functions like force support - including lodging and meal planning, intelligence, maintenance, security forces, and civil engineering among others, while special staff members include functions like the chaplains, legal and Public Affairs.

While personnel at both Andersen AFB and within the Northern Mariana Islands conduct the vital work to keep planes flying, cargo moving, and ground operations going, others work to provide the logistical and intelligence support necessary.

Rapidly moving personnel, material, equipment, and aircraft while providing air dominance, global mobility, and command and control requires a team with diverse skills able to effectively execute their mission.

“Each directorate really rose to the occasion and owned their functions,” said Maj. Jacob Blasbalg, the 673d ABW ACE communication lead planner. “As things came closer to execution, we worked through each problem that came up. It was a huge team effort.”

Additionally, members working to provide communication, financial, intelligence, and other logistical support work together alongside a command team made up of 3rd AEW leadership to execute AR 23-1.

This behind-the-scenes work and planning is vital to mission execution, ensuring that every Airman is prepared and able to operate in a contested, degraded, and operationally limited environment. Additionally, the lessons learned from this exercise will be used to provide the Air Force with the know-how to deploy, maneuver, and project power in austere environments outside of military bases more successfully.

“It’s all about one team, one fight,” said 3rd AEW Command Chief Master Sgt. Nikki Drago. “When it comes time to do this in real life, we need to be prepared. Everyone has got their piece of the puzzle, you put all of that together to make us a lethal force.”

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