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386 AEW Airmen demonstrate ability to apply many skillsets, conduct Agile Combat Employment from austere environment

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Dalton Williams, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs Office

Airmen from the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing provided Base Operations Support-Integrator capabilities during a U.S. Air Forces Central Command exercise, Sept 3-17, 2022 at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.

Operation Agile Spartan III, which is an Agile Combat Employment capstone, tested wings from across AFCENT, dissecting their ability to quickly deploy a small and efficient team anywhere in the world, at any time, and stand up a functioning air base to a mission capable status.

“The whole purpose of ACE is to demonstrate that we can go somewhere else on short notice, get set up and then fly combat lines from a different location so that we can show our flexibility to project air power from a bunch of different random places,” said Capt. Park Lundgreen, 79th Fighter Squadron F-16CM Fighting Falcon pilot. “It makes us more flexible to project air power from different locations.”

Throughout the exercise, Airmen came together to not only perform their specific skillsets, but to demonstrate their ability to be Multi-Capable Airmen by learning new skills.

An instrumental piece in laying the foundation for the exercise’s success and executing from minute one at this location was the 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron.

The 386th ECES team was tasked with getting the airfield operational and facilities to a mission capable status, while performing continued maintenance on equipment like the Mobile Aircraft Arresting System, or MAAS. For example, to maintain the MAAS, a piece of equipment that stretches a raised pendant cable across the runway for aircraft to grab onto with their tailhook to slow down, they often had to think outside the box and utilize the Multi-Capable Airmen around the base, regardless of job specialty.

“For the MAAS installation, normally that's done by my power production troops,” said Capt. Peter Last, 386th ECES officer-in-charge of civil engineer operations. “In this particular case, we had a limited number of power production troops, and it's a relatively labor-intensive process. So, what we were able to do is actually leverage our EOD troops. We had nine of them come down and help pound stakes.”

It’s these Multi-Capable Airmen that ensured mission success for the exercise.

“Our mission success has always been enabled by the Airmen that we have,” said Last. “I know everyone says this, but people are the most important asset that the Air Force has. They're the ones that solve the problems when you don't have what you need. If the water supply line to a toilet is busted and leaking, anyone can go replace it with another water supply line. But when you don't have the equipment that you need or the parts that you need to fix it, it's the people that come up with those creative solutions. I think that the people not just in CE, but across the base are what are enabling continued success with this operation.”

Embodying the MCA mindset was shared by nearly all units. In addition to our CES members, Airmen from the 386th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron added to their skillset thanks to the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron. Members from the 386th EFSS learned to operate items including forklifts and aircraft bomb loaders through clear and efficient training from the ELRS.

“Teamwork has been absolutely key to making sure that we can get the job done out here,” said Lundgreen. “It's been awesome to see from a fighter pilot perspective…to show up to a new location and to see that CE has already been out here. Everything is squared away and ready to go so that we could show up here ready to do the mission.”