JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (AFNS) —
Airmen from Air Combat Command, United States Air Forces in Europe, Pacific Air Force and civilian counterparts came to Joint Base Langley-Eustis to test technology and tactics during the Agile Combat Employment Command, Control and Communications Operations Rehearsal, Dec. 6-13.
The rehearsal focused on C3 operations, deployable technology, practicing ACE tactics, techniques and procedures, finding areas for improvement within the ACE C3 construct, and making necessary corrections. Honing in on the C3 aspect of ACE helps to more efficiently overcome obstacles and streamline operations prior to ACE being implemented in real-world scenarios.
“This is a very communications-driven event,” said Maj. Alexander Wilkie, ACC Agile Combat branch chief. “We’re focused on how we communicate with aircraft, how we set up our communications networks, and our ability to receive intelligence data and drive that information to help lead-wing commanders make decisions.”
The rehearsal was led by ACC’s Agile Battle Lab, which focuses on how to best equip warfighters in preparation for the future fight.
“There’s not one piece of technology that makes ACC more lethal or more resilient. Because of that, we collaborated across commands to assemble C3 kits that will improve future capabilities,” said Lt. Col. Adam Chitwood, Agile Battle Lab commander. “This is a learning environment so failure is allowed. We would rather identify equipment that doesn’t work now, as opposed to buying more and then spending time on something that doesn’t work.”
The equipment and software integrated by Airmen during the event included the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communication System, new tactical and commercial satellite communications systems, traditional military satellite communications systems, smart routing equipment, and cross-domain devices. Moreover, they experienced working with this equipment in an expeditionary environment.
“Airmen are getting a feel for expeditionary systems. In a normal communications squadron, Airmen may not see an expeditionary kit unless they previously worked in a combat communications unit,” said Lt. Col. Stephanie Baskett, Expeditionary Communications branch chief.
The rehearsal demonstrated communication requirements to leaders across the Air Force, and it outlined the standardized capabilities lead wings need to execute the seven warfighting functions: command and control, fires, force protection, information, intelligence, logistics and maneuvering in an ACE environment.
The warfighting environment is changing, and ACC is addressing the challenges as outlined in the recently released Air Force Doctrine Note 1-21.
“ACE requires a revolutionary change in how the Air Force thinks about and conducts operations within the modern operational environment,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. “ACE complicates the enemy’s targeting process, creates political and operational dilemmas for the enemy, and creates flexibility for friendly forces.”
The ops rehearsal highlights the speed at which ACC is accelerating change and adapting to the ‘volatile, uncertain and complex’ threat environment through collaboration across the force.
“The ACE construct is a change in mindset. Our enemy has changed, so we need to change the way that we think, the way that we fight,” Baskett said. “This rehearsal is the cutting edge.”