On a spreadsheet akin to an unresolved game of Wordle, the 403rd Wing’s February Super Unit Training Assembly schedule was mapped out in blocks of routine appointments, briefings and events, but it also included training geared toward supporting the Air Force’s push for multi-capable Airmen.
As part of a beta test of a new UTA schedule setup, the 403rd Wing tested a three-day UTA weekend Feb. 4-6, focused on hands-on training with an emphasis on MCAs.
The MCA concept was brought about as a result of the development of Air Force Doctrine Note 1-21, Agile Combat Employment, which is described as an operational concept that supports joint all-domain operations enabling convergence across domains, presenting an adversary with dilemmas at an operational tempo that complicates or negates adversary responses and enables the joint force to operate inside the adversary’s decision-making cycle.
“A multi-capable Airmen is someone familiar with and capable of assisting in certain key functions in a wartime situation that isn’t necessarily in line with the training from their Air Force Specialty Code,” said Chief Master Sgt. David Paladino, 403rd Force Support Squadron superintendent. “The purpose is to enhance the capabilities of Airmen, thus, enhancing the capabilities and efficiency of missions in hostile environments.”
As far as formal guidelines and doctrine, the MCA is largely an idea in development, so to come up with a plan for the Super UTA, Paladino said the wing implemented a tiger team to assess what could be accomplished using the resources and capabilities available during a UTA weekend here.
“Air Mobility Command is building a table of authorizations for what they want their MCA to look like, so we borrowed from what they’ve been doing and what career fields they have been training in different areas and built a schedule based on that,” he said.
Several of the courses offered like Tactical Combat Casualty Care and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense training, were required for all Airmen. Other courses were career-field specific, considering situations the Airmen could face in a combat environment.
“For example, think of people who work out, on or around the flightline regularly, who aren’t trained on how to marshal aircraft. They might learn how to do that so that in an emergency they are familiar with how to do it,” Paladino said. “Or say an aerospace ground equipment Airman or a fuels troop can take a course from security forces on defensive fighting positions in the event an attack or invasion happens.”
Courses like pallet build-up, disabled vehicle training, forklift training, defensive fighting positions and more were offered to Airmen who are not primarily trained in those tasks.
“I think being diverse in other career fields is important, especially with tasks that you could realistically have to do,” said Tech. Sgt. Johnnie Sims, 403rd Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician.
Sims had the opportunity to go down the street from his normal job of preparing and maintaining equipment for aircrew to the 41st Aerial Port Squadron where he was able to learn how to properly build up and secure items onto a pallet in preparation for flight.
“It was a great learning experience and I look forward to more in the future,” he said.
Since there are currently no set guidelines for what MCA training should look like, Paladino said this was largely a trial run for MCA development at the wing level. He explained they will take what they learned from this past weekend and apply it during the next super UTA in September, as well as during exercises in the future until official action plans are implemented and sent down from higher levels.
While the in-person training provided during UTA weekends or during larger exercises is crucial to forming a more diversely capable Airman, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. said being an MCA is also a mindset.
He said he was excited about the energy behind developing MCAs and used the example of what Airmen were able to accomplish in 17 days during the recent withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Airmen were asked to do a lot that they weren’t initially trained to do, he said. But some very talented Airmen were able to step up and respond throughout that and that was a testament of all the work they do.