In December of 2020, the document Action Orders to Accelerate Change Across the Air Force was released, describing what strategic approach is necessary to move forward as a force.
Since then, the 36th Wing has created and implemented new standard operating procedures to meet the call to Accelerate Change or Lose by spearheading a training guide for Agile Combat Employment concepts and multi-capable Airmen skill sets.
Within the 36th Wing, the 36th Contingency Response Group was placed at the forefront of writing a robust and capable training syllabus. This training plan focuses on ACE and MCA concepts executed at the wing level, and the 36th CRG was naturally right for the job.
“The Contingency Response community is the logical birthplace for training Airmen to open and operate from new locations in support of Agile Combat Employment,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Denzer, the 36th CRG deputy group commander. “The average contingency response Airman has always been a multi-capable Airman due to the adaptive and flexible nature of small teams opening a new operating location. The 36th Wing saw an opportunity to leverage already existing training capabilities and training grounds organic to the 36th CRG to start moving out on MCA training in support of ACE.”
The 36th CRG also already employs three accredited courses whose cadre represent training subject matter experts who were ready to begin creating guidance, Denzer said.
Denzer explained that breaking down ACE concepts requires units to be innovative and adaptive to challenging environments. ACE can look different depending on each unit’s mission and craft, which will affect the requirements and training for service members to properly utilize MCA skills. Units falling under Air Combat Command will require different training than units under Air Mobility Command.
“At a tactical level ACE will mean different things to different units as they try to tackle problem sets specific to their aircraft, mission and potential operating environments,” Denzer said. “Our standard operating procedures will continue to evolve as units develop their specific plans to execute ACE. One unit may require more training or a higher level of proficiency on special fueling operations due to their aircraft type.”
Denzer pointed out though that ACE and MCA should not automatically mean CRG, but will eventually become synonymous with how wings operate and respond to contingency needs. Tech. Sgt. Jason Ornellas, the quality assurance manager assigned to the 36th Logistical Readiness Squadron Petroleum, Oil and Lubrication Flight, says that his team has been involved with the development of ACE and MCA skill sets since last year.
“We have integrated with our CRG counterparts and were able to instruct PACAF’s first-ever MCA course, while also accomplishing many firsts on the island, including the first fuel bladder hot refuel to a U.S. Navy search and rescue helicopter at an austere location,” Ornellas said. “ACE and MCA training should be readily embraced by other units. I have been fortunate enough to be involved in many operations that are out of our normal scope.”
These skills will propel how the U.S. Air Force has previously responded to contingency operations, and create reliable methods of employment to project airpower with minimal environmental footprint and cost at the quickest pace possible.
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass recently made a visit to Andersen AFB and performed ACE exercises alongside Airmen from the 36th CRG.
“Future conflict will never look like wars of the past,” Bass said. “That is why we have to get after building multi-capable, strategically-minded, Airmen today, so they can compete, deter and win tomorrow. It was exciting to see how our Airmen are getting after it, and how Andersen is developing that skillset to ensure we are ready anytime, anywhere.”
Guam’s location is prime for the 36th CRG to respond in the Indo-Pacific region as the forward edge of U.S. Territory in the Pacific Theater, Denzer said.
“The 36th Wing is invested in this region and is therefore very clear on the urgency to remain a leader in this great power competition,” Denzer said. “We have found so many amplifying capabilities and mutual interests within the group, wing and even with our Allies, we would be foolish not to accelerate change in how we operate. We have a great deal of responsibility in ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific.”