ACE postures USAFE to deliver lethal combat counterpunch

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  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

As the operational environment in Europe and Africa continues to evolve, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa is turning to a new concept to ensure the command is prepared to address future threats.

Agile Combat Employment (ACE) ensures USAFE-AFAFRICA is 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.

“With increasing adversary capability, USAFE-AFAFRICA Airmen must be postured and prepared to not only fight on a moment’s notice but to remain unpredictable at the tactical level,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, USAFE-AFAFRICA commander. “Operationalizing ACE allows us, along with our allies and partners, to become more agile in our execution, more strategic in our deterrence, and more resilient in our capability. Agility, deterrence and resiliency are the essential keys to our force being able to defend and operate in a contested environment.”

Harrigian joined Gen. David Goldfein, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, and other senior Air Force leaders recently at the CORONA Fall Conference at the U.S. Air Force Academy to discuss the ACE concept.

During the conference, Harrigian emphasized the critical importance of ACE in Europe and how the command is operationalizing the concept through a variety of activities, including the recent Rapid Forge operation and Bomber Task Force-Europe deployments.

Occurring over several weeks in July, Rapid Forge involved the rapid deployment, arming and refueling of F-35A Lightning II and F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft in multiple locations throughout Eastern Europe. Additionally, during a September BTF-Europe deployment, B-2 Spirit aircraft and personnel, which were deployed to RAF Fairford, U.K., conducted forward operations from locations including Keflavik, Iceland, and Lajes Air Field in the Azores.

While these operations demonstrate the flexibility and interoperability of USAFE-AFAFRICA and other Air Force deployed assets, they also highlighted the importance of mature relationships with allies and partners.

“Our Airmen have proven time and time again that they stand ready to respond to any contingency at any time. Moving forward, we must be the blunt force ready to counterpunch when deterrence fails,” Harrigian said. “We operate in a complicated theater and the tyranny of proximity makes working with our allies and partners throughout Europe an absolute imperative to making ACE a success.”