Exercise ended, real-world ready

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An Airmen assigned to the 355th Wing prepares for another day during Exercise Bushwhacker 19-08 at Libby Army Airfield, Ariz., Nov. 5, 2019. Airmen went through a simulated deployment for seven days in support of the Dynamic Wing concept. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

The 355th Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona executed Exercise Bushwhacker 19-08 at several locations from Oct. 28 to Nov. 8, 2019.

The Dynamic Wing focuses on the 355th Wing’s ability to pick up rescue and attack missions’ personnel and cargo, move into an austere and contested location and expand into these areas using forward adaptive basing.

“The Dynamic Wing answers General Goldfien’s charge to be able to take a wing, deploy it into a contested environment with austere conditions,  be able to operate out of that environment, and then be able to receive follow on forces with minimal command and control,” said Col. Michael R. Drowley, 355th Wing commander. “This helps answer the National Defense Strategy as far as how we will deploy our forces and create problem sets for our adversaries and our near peer competitors.”

Airmen assigned to the 355th Wing recieve equipment for a simulated deployment during Exercise Bushwhacker 19-08 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 2, 2019. This exercise enabled the wing to rapidly deploy and execute the Dynamic Wing concept. (Air Force photograph by 2nd Lt. Casey E. Bell)

The exercise was held primarily at Libby Army Airfield with alternate spokes on the East Range Training Ground, Fort Huachuca, and Davis-Monthan. These environments simulated conditions that Airmen can expect to face in a real-world scenario.

“Our Airmen received extremely valuable training reps in new environments that bolstered their confidence, developed their leadership skills and ultimately increased their readiness to face the challenging operational environment ahead,” said Lt. Col. Russell Fette, 355th Wing plans and programs chief.

As the climate of war changes, more is required of Airmen and the execution of the Dynamic Wing concept.

“The last time we employed the Dynamic Wing in an exercise we focused on the A-10 [Thunderbolt II] operations, but during this iteration we brought together rescue and attack assets to accomplish the mission,” said Drowley. “We have gone from executing just a mission focus to a complete wing focus. This has been more broad based with our joint partners and Air Force partners in making gains to being able to employ force in support of the NDS.”

Col. Michael Drowley, 355th Wing commander and Col. Jason Pifer, 563rd Rescue Group commander, set up sleeping cots during Exercise Bushwhacker 19-08 at Libby Army Airfield, Ariz., Nov. 2, 2019. DM is preparing to be able to deploy its entire wing to remain adaptive, deploy in an austere location and answer the nation’s call. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Mya M. Crosby)

Bushwhacker 19-08 included support from the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, Robins AFB, Ga., and 355th Wing Airmen from a geographically separated unit at Nellis AFB, Nev. This joint effort helps hone in the Department of Defense’s mission to deter war, protect security, prepare to win and negotiate from a position of strength.

“The biggest takeaway from this iteration of the Dynamic Wing exercise is our ability to work through problems while still getting the job done,” said Drowley. “The biggest lesson we always come back to is how it takes leadership to thrive in this environment. We are trying to create that next set of leaders that can continue on to get the mission done.”

The Airmen of the 355th Wing are learning their role in the joint fight to provide autonomous and agile forces that execute at speeds outpacing enemy planning cycles to create a U.S. military advantage while approaching every problem with a multi-functional mindset that is focused on and dedicated to mission success.

Airman receive medical care for a simulated nerve agent attack on the central operating base, during Exercise Bushwhacker 19-08, at Libby Army Airfield, Ariz., Nov. 5, 2019. During the simulated deployment the central operating base was subjected to multiple scenarios testing the Airmen to maintain operational readiness and defend rescue and attack assets. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Cheyenne A. Powers)

“This exercise was a highly successful validation of our concept for agile combat employment with a deployable wing,” said Fette. “We are truly leading the Air Force, as evidenced by the many leaders from other wings and commands that flew in to observe our operations or have called with questions. This wasn’t easy and it has been a heavy lift for a long time, but our Airmen should be extremely proud of where the year of planning, training and exercising has brought us. I’m excited and proud to be a part of the continual development of our Dynamic Wing.”

The wing keeps personnel ready to deploy on short notice, defend the base and operate in high-threat environments. This exercise ensures Airmen can function in their primary job against a near-peer threat while also executing defined skills outside of their primary job to allow the wing to execute its overall mission.

“This exercise has allowed us to work on our skill sets, work on our leadership to be able to get our mission done and we are finding that we lead the Air Force in how we communicate and how we are able to deploy with our multi-functional Airmen that we have to get the job done,” said Drowley. “What we have done out here is not easy but our Airmen have kept a positive attitude while leading through tough circumstances and the work that they have done here will ensure that our nation is safe.”

The 355th Wing is proving its ability to rapidly deploy while developing and improving the Dynamic Wing  as well as the Airmen that support it. Rescue and attack.
 

Two U.S. Air Force Thunderbolt IIs taxi on the flight line during Exercise Bushwhacker 19-08 at Libby Army Airfield, Ariz., Nov. 4, 2019. This exercise is enabling the 355th Wing to continue to lead the Air Force in dynamic force employment, which is now critical for mission success. (Air Force photograph by 2nd Lt. Casey E. Bell)

 
A U.S. Air Force Airman from the 355th Wing defends the base in a simulated deployed environment during Exercise Bushwhacker 19-08 on Libby Army Airfield, Ariz., Nov. 5, 2019. During the exercise Airmen were tasked to set up, maintain and defend the Dynamic Wing in a simulated contested and austere location. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Cheyenne A. Powers)

 
Col. Michael Drowley, 355th Wing commander, and three Airmen walk to board an HC-130J Combat King II during exercise Bushwhacker 19-08 at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Nov. 6, 2019. Drowley acted as the 355th Air Expeditionary Wing commander during a simulated deployment in support of the Dynamic Wing. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

 
Airmen assigned to the 355th Wing participate in Exercise Bushwhacker 19-08 at the hub in Libby Army Airfield, Ariz., Nov. 4, 2019. During the Dynamic Wing exercise, the Airmen donned their mission oriented protective posture gear and responded to an attack warning while protecting the base personnel and assets. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Mya M. Crosby)