Exercise preps total force for future of deployment

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. William A. O’Brien
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs

Team Offutt became the first Air Combat Command designated Lead Wing to conduct an Agile Combat Employment exercise when about 60 members from across the base participated in KingFish ACE, March 15 and 16.

KingFish ACE is a board game developed by Lt. Col. Troy Pierce, while he was a student at the Marine Corps War College. Gameplay takes place in a hypothetical contingency in the Western Pacific between 2020 and 2030.

“We were grateful to have Colonel Pierce and his team come down here and lead some of our Airmen through this exercise, said Maj. Craig Ambrose, 55th Wing Lead Wing chief of staff. “This is a great way to get everybody in that ACE mindset. I saw them all actively engaging and working through logistical and other problems to project Air Power in a quick and agile manner.”

The objective of KingFish ACE is for participants from career fields across the Air Force to experience the planning, deployment and execution of Multi-Capable Airmen supporting ACE concepts to understand the complexities and tradeoffs required to project air power under less than optimal circumstances.

“I think it’s just as important for new Airmen as it is for seasoned military members to practice and understand ACE concepts because in future operations, we may not be able to rely on long-standing built up bases and organized deployments,” said Capt. Paige Markley, 55th WG assistant staff judge advocate. “Everyone needs to get more comfortable with the possibility of deploying in that fashion and what that means.”

To play the Airmen of various ranks and skillsets are broken into four to six teams, each representing their own Lead Wing. while competing against one another for limited resources, the teams must also work cooperatively to defeat the hypothetical adversary.

ACE is predicated on the hub and spoke concept. A Lead Wing establishes a main hub in the vicinity of an adversary. Smaller forward operating bases spoke from that to project short-range aerial attacks using fourth and fifth generation fighter aircraft. These hub and spoke operating locations are commanded by Lead Wings such as the 55th WG.

“KingFish ACE is specific to ACE and ACE is critical to Lead Wing activity. The objective of a Lead Wing is deploying quickly with small groups comprised of manpower, intelligence, operations, logistics, maintenance and communications.  Colonel Thompson will lead these groups and command fighter aircraft assigned to the 55th Wing with potential for additional support aircraft,” said Ambrose. “Just like in gameplay, Lead Wing deployment starts at a main operating base and filters out to forward operating sites in a hub and spoke style network.”

With the 55th WG now operating as a Lead Wing, equipping Airman from the tactical level to strategic with a baseline understanding of what agile combat is and understand the relationships between task, threat, capabilities, time and the complexities of ACE, aids them in understanding decisions made on the ground and the broader scope of things considered when decisions are made.

“Agile combat employment is the future standard of Air Force expeditionary operations. In a few years instead of referring to it as agile combat employment, it will just be combat employment,” said Ambrose. “I would like to thank every Airman who participated this week. Every one of them was engaged and actively learning and understanding these concepts which will soon be core to the way Air Power is generated on a global scale.”