The commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. Mark Kelly, and Chief Master Sgt. David Wade, ACC Command Chief Master Sergeant, visited one of the newly designated Lead Wings – the 355th Wing, and certified ACC’s Heritage Flight Training Course hosted at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, March 2-6, 2022.
ACC announced the designation of the 355th Wing as a Lead Wing in January. Lead Wings signify the command’s readiness to “rapidly generate combat power as a deployed force” that is able to operate in contested environments with joint and coalition partners.
During their visit, the ACC leadership team saw how the 355th Wing has prepared for Lead Wing operations through its Dynamic Wing exercises since 2019. These exercises have tested the wing’s ability to rapidly deploy rescue and attack aircraft, multi-capable Airmen, cargo and equipment into austere and contested locations while maintaining persistent command and control.
“Evolving our organizational structures, how we generate and present forces, and how we fight is key to ensuring our Airmen are ready to respond to crisis and conflict whenever and wherever that may be,” Kelly said. “The 355th Wing has made great progress on that front in establishing the Lead Wing at Davis-Monthan.”
355th Wing Commander Col. Joseph Turnham established the command and control element of the Lead Wing into a structure known as an A-Staff on Jan. 4. In addition, the maintenance units that supported the 55th and 79th Rescue Squadrons transitioned into rescue generation squadrons to ensure unity of effort between aircraft maintenance and flying squadrons. This demonstrated its usefulness during a record response to a recent rescue mission conducted in Wilcox, Arizona.
“We’re making significant strides here at DM,” Turnham said. “As one of ACC’s designated Lead Wings, we are getting after Agile Combat Employment by improving command and control capabilities, standing up our A-Staff, exercising our Air Base Squadron, and leading ACC in training Multi-Capable Airmen.
Additionally, we are also standing up two fighter generation squadrons in April to optimize attack mission generation.”
To further refine the Lead Wing structure, future Dynamic Wing exercises are being planned with an even greater emphasis on command and control. Force elements of Airmen will train and deploy together in a two-year Air Force Force Generation cycle to provide combatant commanders a swift, ready force for the high-end fight. The AFFORGEN model is projected to start in fiscal year 2023.