Green Flag-West rolls out Agile Combat Employment with austere, A-10 Thunderbolt II operations

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Alexandre Montes
  • 57th Wing Public Affairs

Joint warfighters from several career fields and duty stations arrived in a dry lakebed at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. Their task was to train, teach and learn each other’s mission, and to execute combat airpower anytime, anywhere.

“The 549th and 12th CTS are making breaking-edge advancements with combat and weapons to the Green Flag-West exercise,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Keilen, 549th Combat Training Squadron commander. “Dispersing forces within threat timelines increases survivability and preserves combat airpower while still generating attack airpower while executing the mission.”  

Several of the Airmen who participated set up tents, cleared and marked a dirt runway on the dry lakebed, and established communications. They also partnered with maintenance and intelligence Airmen at Nellis Air Force Base and U.S. Army Soldiers locally.

“One of the things we pride ourselves at Green Flag is to be a unique training environment, being able to provide the level of ACE support,” said Keilen.

The main objective to complete within a short period was to provide launch and recovery to A-10 Thunderbolt II’s assigned to the 354th Fighter Squadron assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

Working alongside U.S. Army partners on the range with JADO, Airmen were given the chance to cross-train and operate outside of their primary career fields.

“As an engineering [Airman] we test the subsurface strength to determine whether or not the landing zone can support the aircraft that we were trying trying to bring in safely. As the landing zone safety officer that our primary role,” said Master Sgt. Brad Johannes, 921st Contingency Response Squadron operations flight chief, assigned to Travis Air Force Base, California. “Secondary to that is part of the Multi-Capable Airman Concept. We expand our expertise into what the airfield managers do.”

Not only was Johannes and his team able to coordinate with the airfield managers, but he and another were trained to speak and direct A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft onto the runway that they cleared.

As Johannes and his cadre teamed up to become ACE enablers, their efforts during Green Flag-West allowed them to work with combat controllers.

“This has been an extraordinary opportunity, so a lot of the intricate detail of working with fighter aircraft is something that I can take back to our unit,” Johannes said. “This way we can expand [Contingency Response operations] upon as we lean forward on the ACE concept and General Brown’s ‘Accelerate Change or Lose’ initiative.”

Over the entire exercise, orders were generated and Airmen learned how they can fit and excel into the bigger picture or airpower. This iteration has gained another component to accelerate change for the 549th CTS at the home of the warfighter.