Spangdahlem puts ACE concept into practice; tests forward deployed capabilities

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Joshua R. M. Dewberry
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office

 Airmen from the 52nd Fighter Wing conducted an Agile Combat Employment exercise here, Jan. 14, 2020, to deter adversaries and ensure readiness for any short-notice threat.

 “This concept isn’t new, but we’re rewriting the playbook on how to respond to the challenges of today, with the least amount of resources required at a forward operating location, to be able to launch combat lines from locations other than Spangdahlem,” said Col. Jason Hokaj, 52nd FW vice commander. “The biggest challenge is that this is not a checklist item, we’re building the checklist as we go.”

ACE ensures U.S. Air Forces in Europe and our partners are ready for potential contingencies with little notice by allowing forces to operate from locations with varying levels of capacity and support, ensuring Airmen and aircrews are postured to respond across the spectrum of military operations.

 “We can take off and land from practically anywhere, but receiving on ground support is the logistical challenge we’re facing,” said Hokaj.

The exercise challenged personnel to support operations in a simulated adverse environment with minimal personnel, resources, and time. The concept allows the U.S. Air Force to spread out across Europe and operate in various locations.

“We look at what is needed for real world operations. How many people do we need? Is this the right equipment? Things like that,” said Hokaj. “At Spangdahlem, we have spare aircraft, but at a forward location, we don’t have the same resources available.”

ACE directly fits into the 52nd FW mission priority of “Delivering Combat Capabilities.”

“The goal of this exercise is to show our flexibility, anywhere anytime, rearming and refueling our jets at any location,” said Chief Master Sgt. Michael Hansel, 52nd Maintenance Squadron munitions flight chief. “We’re trying to stay flexible and mobile since we could end up anywhere in Europe.”

ACE concepts will be exercised on a multinational level. Spangdahlem Air Base is one of the first to test the logistical requirements to operate from other locations.

“We’re testing our logistic capabilities, our countermeasures and re-arming our jets in a deployed location as soon as possible,” said Hansel. “It keeps us a moving target, and keeps our enemies guessing.”