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Agile Flag paves way for Lead Wings

F-15 Eagles taxing

F-15E Strike Eagles from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, taxi down the runway after arriving at Tyndall AFB, Fla., Oct. 24, 2020. The fighter jets participated in exercise Agile Flag 21-1, an experimental exercise that tests a new lead wing command design for deployed environments. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Andrew Kobialka)

Airmen Loading C-130

A loadmaster from the 61st Airlift Squadron directs Airmen on how to load a C-130J Super Hercules at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Oct. 26, 2020. The 61st AS participated in the transportation of 366th Fighter Wing Airmen to a training contingency location to conduct integrated combat turns with F-15E Strike Eagles as part of exercise Agile Flag 21-1. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Andrew Kobialka)

Airmen off loading munitions

Airmen assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Combat Command offload a cart of GBU-38 joint direct attack munitions from an MC-130J Commando II assigned to the 9th Special Operations Squadron during exercise Agile Flag 21-1 at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Oct. 27, 2020. Airmen assigned to AFSOC and ACC conducted a forward area refueling point operation and rearmed GBU-38s to two F-15E Strike Eagles assigned to the 389th Fighter Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Pick)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (AFNS) --

Exercise Agile Flag 21-1 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, came to a close Oct. 29, as the first-of-its-kind event to test the effectiveness of “Lead Wings.”

The lead wing for this exercise was the 366th Fighter Wing from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, and 250 Airmen from six units from across the Air Force who participated to better understand the diverse requirements that will go into certifying the lead-wing concept for Air Combat Command.

“Each unit at Agile Flag 21-1 — a fighter wing, combat communication unit, tactical airlift and more — came together with different capabilities into one comprehensive and well-trained force package,” said Col. Rick Goodman, 366th FW commander. “Through this experiment, participating units are helping us refine agile combat employment and ensure that we bring what’s required to execute our National Defense Strategy.”

Using this experiment as a baseline, ACC will work toward a flag-level exercise that will be designed to certify a lead wing’s ability to generate and provide command and control as well as support and defend combat forces.

“Agile Flag 21-1 has shown that not only is dynamic force employment critical, it is possible,” said Maj. Gen. Chad Franks, 15th Air Force commander. “Through this experiment, we have gained a better understanding of how we can provide combat air power and a wide range of other capabilities to our combatant commanders while remaining agile and lethal.”

According to Goodman, the overall goal of creating such an exercise is to provide joint force commanders an agile and lethal team that can be employed around the world as soon as they are required; a unified team that has trained together, so that when their boots hit the ground, they are ready to execute the mission.

“Agile Flag 21-1 has been a great opportunity to impact how our Air Force thinks about providing combat airpower,” Goodman said. “This experiment has provided insights into how agile combat employment combined with lead wing concepts can provide agility and lethality to joint force commanders across the globe.”

Refining that combat employment will now fall into the hands of ACC, 15th Air Force, and the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center.

The Air Force, and specifically ACC, needs to refine and clearly articulate expectations for the role of a lead wing as an instrument of airpower in support of strategic national objectives, said Lt. Col. Andrew Frasch, ACC Operations Dynamic Force Employment chief.

“Any time we have the opportunity to use a dedicated venue to address and experiment with both force presentation and agile combat employment concepts and tactics, techniques and procedure development, it’s a victory for our Air Force,” Frasch said. “We’ll take what we learned, from things that went well, and those that didn’t, and build on those for the next iteration in the spring. The more we do this, the faster the progress will come.”

 

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