The U.S. Air Force has reported that the 167th Airlift Wing recently teamed up with the 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard, to conduct their first Agile Combat Employment (ACE) Feb. 17. During the single-day exercise, cargo and Airmen were transported via a C-17 Globemaster III from Warfield Air National Guard Base at Martin State Airport, Baltimore, Md.,to Martinsburg, W.Va. Two A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft joined the equipment and personnel to mimic operations from a forward location. Capt. Trebor Taylor, C-17 pilot and exercise planner said the primary goal was to help another unit.
The objective was to transport their cargo and personnel to Martinsburg, set up their equipment and operate out of this location, simulating an austere environment, and the exercise accomplished that. A forecasted snowstorm forced participants to shorten the exercise from two days to one, but Taylor said it created a secondary element to the training, requiring the movement of cargo and people quicker, efficiently, and safely. The ACE exercise also provided unique training opportunities to the C-17 aircrew and aerial port specialists, requiring them to work with equipment specifically for the A-10. During the exercise Airmen moved 44,000 pounds of cargo, including MJ-1B/C Bomblifts, GF-7/E Ammo Loading Systems, and MHU-141 Bomb Trailers.
The Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept aims to develop Airmen who are adept in disciplines outside of their normal day-to-day duties. Exercises like this contribute to the evolution of a force of multi-capable Airmen and aircrew, improving mission readiness and increasing capabilities in less than optimal environments. Airmen and aircrew underwent cross-discipline training, learning new skill sets from their peers in other career fields. Doing that in addition to an already busy exercise and deployment schedule may be a challenge, ACE will eventually work its way into those larger events. In the meantime, the service is pulling from lessons learned with ACE as it works through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.