Training multi-capable Airmen for the high-end fight

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Senior Airman Jake Marquez, 355th Logistics Readiness Squadron forward area refueling point operator, connects a fuel line to an A-10 Thunderbolt II for a FARP mission during Bushwhacker 20-07 at Fort Bliss, Texas, Nov. 4, 2020. A-10s from the 354th Fighter Squadron, HC-130J Combat King IIs from the 79th Rescue Squadron, and Airmen from the 355th Maintenance Squadron and 355th LRS worked together to accomplish FARP training as a critical capability for assets downrange. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob T. Stephens)
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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.

Airmen from the 355th Wing receive instruction during Bushwhacker 20-07 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Nov. 3, 2020. The Bushwhacker 20-07 exercise is building multi-capable Airmen that are able to establish, sustain and defend a base with organic command and control in an austere and contested location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob T. Stephens)

“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.

Airman 1st Class Jackson Wagner, 355th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron A-10 Thunderbolt II crew chief, performs pre-flight inspections on an A-10 on the flight line at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Nov. 3, 2020. Wagner and other Airmen from the 355th AMXS moved A-10s from their typical location on the flight line to help simulate working with limited resources as part of Bushwhacker 20-07. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob T. Stephens)

“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.

U.S. Air Force Col. Joseph Turnham, 355th Wing commander, briefs Airmen during Bushwhacker 20-07 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Nov. 2, 2020. Turnham briefed Airmen on the importance of this exercise as it aligns with the priorities of Air Force and Department of Defense senior leaders, as well as how building multi-capable Airmen meets the needs of the ever-changing climate of war. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob T. Stephens)
Airmen from the 355th Wing practice team movement procedures during Bushwhacker 20-07 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Nov. 3, 2020. The Airmen involved in this training were from various units across the wing, but are learning from SFS personnel to become multi-capable that are able to establish, sustain and defend the base with organic command and control. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob T. Stephens)
U.S. Air Force Col. Joseph Turnham, 355th Wing commander, runs hose during a forward area refueling point mission as part of Bushwhacker 20-07 at Fort Bliss, Texas, Nov. 4, 2020. FARP is a critical capability for the dynamic force employment and agile combat employment concepts that the 355th Wing is training in Bushwhacker 20-07. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob T. Stephens)
A U.S. Air Force HC-130J pilot, assigned to the 79th Rescue Squadron, looks out the cockpit during a flight in support of Bushwhacker 20-07 at Fort Bliss, Texas, Nov. 4, 2020. The HC-130J is the Air Force’s only fixed-wing personnel recovery platform, that is also tasked with several other mission sets that are crucial to the successful execution of the mission downrange. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob T. Stephens)
Senior Airman Jake Marquez, 355th Logistics Readiness Squadron forward area refueling point operator, waits on aircraft to arrive during a FARP mission in support of Bushwhacker 20-07 at Fort Bliss, Texas, Nov. 4, 2020. As the global climate of war continues to change and become more demanding, service members across the Department of Defense continue to build and sustain an unprecedented and unmatched level of readiness across the force through in-depth and constant training to ensure critical capabilities that are required in the fight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob T. Stephens)
Airmen from the 355th Wing get briefed during Bushwhacker 20-07 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Nov. 2, 2020. Bushwhacker 20-07, the 355th Wing’s dynamic force employment and agile combat employment exercise, demonstrates the ability to wield combat power and rapidly deploy forces to an austere and contested location anywhere, anytime. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob T. Stephens)
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