LANGLEY, Va. --- Air Combat Command will conduct an experiment known as Agile Flag 21-1 from Oct. 21-29 to test agile combat employment and a new lead wing deployment concept.
During Agile Flag 21-1, the 366th Fighter Wing from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, will test its ability to deploy as a lead Air Expeditionary Wing with a wing-level air staff. The unit will employ mission generation, command and control, and base operating support elements from its main operating base at Tyndall AFB, Florida, while supporting a forward operating base at Hurlburt Field, Florida, and a contingency location at Eglin AFB, Florida.
Mountain Home will deploy F-15Es from the 389th Fighter Squadron along with Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s 90th Fighter Squadron F-22s. The 5th Combat Communication Group from Robins AFB, Georgia, will provide the communications infrastructure. Additional units and Airmen from Air Mobility Command and Air Force Special Operations Command will also support the experiment.
These units will come together to demonstrate and exercise how a wing-level organization can project combat air power, while remaining agile.
ACC is working to develop a model utilizing lead wings across the command, to align future forces with the 2018 National Defense Strategy and the “Accelerate Change or Lose” vision of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr.
According to ACC commander Gen. Mark Kelly, a peer fight will not allow time for acclimation or team bonding for the first few weeks.
The Air Force is currently experimenting with the Agile Combat Employment model, or ACE, which allows units to forward deploy as teams into locations. The lead wing will increase those capabilities, developing a resilient, adaptive and proactive force able to operate in a contested environment with joint and coalition partners.
The lead wing concept creates deployed teams composed of several Air Force operational capabilities, including a wing headquarters command and control force element, one or more mission generation force elements and an air base squadron force element.
According to officials, these capabilities will be teamed to train and certify as a cohesive major force element before commitment to a national defense-directed operational mission.
“Our senior leaders are updating our force generation model to solve challenges with integration across the Department of the Air Force, as well as ensuring forces are prepared to accomplish our Air Force mission supporting the 2018 National Defense Strategy,” said Lt. Col. Doug Kabel, chief of the ACC Future Operations division.
According to Kelly, the Air Force owes it to the Airmen, making sure they have the skills needed to affectively accomplish the mission before going into a location.
“Lead wings are essentially an aggregation of capabilities across our Air Force in a construct that can lead and go into any location on the globe -- arriving as a previously trained and certified team and then fighting as a previously certified team,” Kelly said.
According to Brown, the model needs to be simple and easy to articulate for the Air Force.
“We want to make our force generation and force presentation model easy for us to understand and articulate inside our Air Force, and easy to understand in our joint force,” Brown said during the Air Force Association’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference in September. Doing so will “ensure we provide the right capabilities at the right place, at the right time while we maintain readiness now and into the future.”