In steps to innovate and modernize the Department of Defense, approximately 200 Airmen assigned to the 99th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Prime Base Engineer Emergency Forces participated in an Agile Combat Employment exercise Nov. 8-10, 2021, at Camp Cobra in Area II of Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
“ACE is the future of how the Air Force organizes and employs forces in preparation for a near-peer conflict,” said Col. Todd Dyer, 99th Air Base Wing commander. “As operations will likely occur in a contested, denied or operationally degraded environment, it’s unlikely large installations and force presentations will be sustainable.”
The exercise consisted of 12 different CE Air Force Specialty-Code career fields coming together to learn wartime and job skills not typically used within their own specialties.
Their training included small-shelter systems build up; tactical combat casualty care; chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear training; explosive ordnance familiarization; electrical, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning; contingency equipment, and bare base set-up.
Dyer said the mindset is to have more Airmen understand and experience a wider range of non-core AFSC skills so that future teams are smaller and lighter. Members were paired up with local Pararescue Specialists and EOD teammates during the three-day exercise.
This wartime contingency training event provided an opportunity to train CE Airmen to be multi-capable under the ACE construct, allowing fewer Airmen to be deployed to the same contingency.
As maintaining the base and runways are the Air Force’s key to remaining operational, more is on the horizon.
“We are starting in-house to build multi-capable Airmen, capable of executing the ACE concept,” said Master Sgt. Damar Turner, Prime BEEF manager. “Our future goal is to integrate outside AFSCs, such as maintenance, security forces, and medical, so that we can build on this concept and offer it on a grand scale to the wing.”
This exercise demonstrated ACE and other concepts that enhance operations, maintenance, and logistics in a high-end conflict when the need arises and the Air Force’s footprint needs to remain small.
Service leaders have an established track record of advocating for programs focused on capabilities that create effects across the competition continuum. ACE is one such program that also assists in ‘Accelerate Change or Lose’ Chief of Staff of the Air Force initiatives.
“As the Air Force is moving forward, we’re looking to develop Airmen that are critical thinkers and problem solvers,” said Lt. Col. Eric Rosenlof, 99th CES commander.
Dyer ended by saying, “Chief Morgan and I are really proud of our CE Team for getting after it; readiness is a top priority for us and this is just one of many ways we’re training to fight.”