The 355th Wing conducted a large-scale exercise at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 2-6, 2020.
Exercise Bushwhacker 20-07 is the 355th Wing’s dynamic force employment and agile combat employment exercise, which demonstrates the ability to use multi-capable Airmen in order to wield combat power and rapidly deploy forces to austere and contested locations anywhere, anytime.
“The exercise was designed to develop our capabilities for ACE, or agile combat employment. The whole concept behind this premise is to build operational unpredictability for would-be adversaries so we can better compete, deter, and if necessary, defeat them in combat,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Joseph Turnham, 355th Wing commander. “If you look at the way we have fought our wars for the last 30 years, starting with Operation Desert Storm, there is resounding success there, but we spent months building large, fixed bases. This allowed us the opportunity to produce large economies of scale. With the increased capabilities that our adversaries have, it makes those bases easier targets.”
As the global climate of conflict continues to evolve, so must the tactics and techniques that are used by Airmen. Moving from large, fixed bases to smaller, more forward operating bases in austere, potentially contested environments will create an advantage over near-peer adversaries by pushing resources closer to the fight.
“This is all about changing the way we fight as we continue to innovate for tomorrow’s fight,” Turnham said. “Our main line of effort this week is the foundation of the Dynamic Wing, which is building multi-capable Airmen who are able to establish, defend and sustain a base. Creating this bench of Airmen who have this expeditionary skill set increases readiness and resiliency, keeping us agile and unpredictable for potential adversaries.”
As these expectations were set, 150 Airmen from across the wing stepped up to lead the Air Force by learning to execute capabilities far outside their day-to-day jobs. This complements and enables the other primary lines of effort for this exercise, which are mission generation and command and control operations.
“Multi-capable Airmen training takes Airmen out of their normal job and puts them into a dynamic situation, which requires an expeditionary mindset,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Rodney Dwyer, 355th Wing chief of plans and programs. “Preparing the wing for more organic deployments to austere environments will prepare our Airmen to take on future challenges with ease. Gen. Charles Brown, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, directed us to accelerate change, or lose. If we drag our feet or wait for someone to tell us which way to go, we will already be behind in a dynamic fight.”
These Airmen learned a variety of skills to include weapons handling and firing, self-aid buddy care and other critical combat capabilities. By having a plethora of skills, Airmen ensure that they are prepared in any and every situation.
“Because of COVID-19, it is especially important that we continue to do these types of exercises and continue developing our capabilities,” Turnham said. “Our competitors are not standing still, they are trying to gain an advantage on us and it is important that we continue to exercise to generate ready forces, not just for today, but also innovating for tomorrow’s fight.”
Airmen across the 355th Wing are continuing to train for the high-end fight and are forging an unmatched and unprecedented level of readiness across the force. This ensures the wing’s ability to rapidly deploy and generate lethal combat airpower anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice to deter and defeat any threat or adversary that may arise.