Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central) executed Operation Agile Spartan III, its third agile combat employment capstone event, throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, Aug. 30 to Sep. 16, 2022.
Throughout the engagement, units out of the 332d, 378th, 379th, and 386th Air Expeditionary Wings executed rapid troop and equipment movement to and from dispersed locations around the region. These actions reflect the ACE paradigm, which is to proactively and reactively execute an operational scheme of maneuver within threat timelines in order to increase survivability while simultaneously generating combat power. Overall, this helps to complicate adversarial targeting.
“While we frequently operate out of various airfields across the world, this was the first time we’ve operated out of a dispersed location quite like this,” said Lt. Col. Erin Brilla, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing/A5X Plans and Programs Director. “From the challenging weather conditions to the new environment to standing up a base with lighter support than we typically rely upon, Operation Agile Spartan III offered us an opportunity to practice a new command and control construct and a completely different logistics chain, enhancing our ability to operate anytime, anywhere.”
The ACE events in AFCENT during the last year — to include those such as Agile Phoenix, Agile Sidra, and Agile Tuskegee — provided the basis of training for the units participating in the capstone. OAS III is where they had the opportunity to test what they learned.
“The goal of the agile combat employment capstone event was to determine where we have made progress over the last six months and determine where we need to focus our attention over the next six months,” said Maj. Chris Bodtke, AFCENT/A3 chief of forces and OAS III lead planner. “Agile Spartan III has been an incredible opportunity to build regional partner relationships and practice distributed operations.”
Additionally, where previous exercises were constrained to singular units or wings, OAS III created a scenario in which combat operations were tested on multiple fronts and involving multiple airframes. Thus, AFCENT had the opportunity to observe how the organization presents combat airpower from a severely degraded position.
AFCENT leadership had the opportunity to not only observe but also participate in the exercise. Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, Combined Forces Air Component Commander, flew an F-16 Fighting Falcon alongside AFCENT Airmen and coalition partners in support of Operation Inherent Resolve on Sep 7 as part of OAS III.
“Airmen in AFCENT are gaining combat experience every day. You cannot put a price tag on that kind of preparation,” said Grynkewich. “The lessons we learn today—and every day—in this organization directly correlate to more effective operations tomorrow as we learn to leverage our capabilities with the greatest possible efficiency and efficacy. Moreover, as Airmen rotate through AFCENT and gain these experiences, the lethality and combat-mindedness of the Air Force as a whole is enhanced, which also benefits other Combatant Commands around the world.”
Using the lessons learned from OAS III, AFCENT will continue to test its combat capabilities and operate alongside our partners in order to support a safe and stable environment in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.