ACE exercise helps prepare 775th CES Airmen for deployment

  • Published
  • By Kendahl Johnson
  • 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 775th Civil Engineer Squadron recently participated in a two-day Agile Combat Employment exercise at Hill Air Force Base.

The Airmen participated in a simulated deployment to a forward-operating base, training and operating with limited resources. They underwent one day of briefings and cross-discipline training, learning new skill sets from their peers in other career fields, and a second day at the Base Operations Readiness Training Area practicing what they learned.

“Our main objective was to ensure our Airmen understood the operational environment of a peer-to-peer conflict,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Long, 775th CES commander. “We did that through threat situation briefs and then setting up scenarios that thrust them into that threat environment. We wanted them to understand how to survive and operate in that environment and to understand how they could best perform their jobs.”

ACE is a proactive and reactive scheme of maneuver meant to increase survivability while generating combat power. Exercises like this contribute to the evolution of a force of multi-capable Airmen who can operate in such an environment, improving mission readiness and increasing capabilities in less-than-optimal environments.

Long said that in a deployed environment, Airmen would be asked to perform their jobs without many of the resources they are used to having. The exercise scenarios were designed to force Airmen to work in a confusing environment with limited equipment, communications, and personnel.

First Lt. James Stapleton, an EOD officer who assisted in the planning of the exercise, said traditionally, training is done with maximum or near maximum resources available, and training without all their regular tools available was beneficial.

“We haven’t really trained in this way before,” Stapleton said. “The exercise empowered our Airmen to be more flexible and to learn to be equipped to handle situations creatively and efficiently despite challenges or obstacles.”

Another major objective for the exercise was to allow the three Air Force Specialty Codes in the squadron – firefighters, explosive ordnance disposal technicians and emergency managers – an opportunity to cross-train. Individuals from each specialty taught basic skills and concepts to Airmen from other specialties.

“We had firefighters teaching how to operate pumps and hoses, we had EOD training folks in basic demolition procedures, and we had EM teach on basic chemical decontamination and protective gear,” Long said. “In a real-world deployment, you’re talking about having a very small number of Airmen going to an austere location. When you only have so many people at a location, everybody’s job becomes everybody’s job.”

Long said this ACE exercise was the first of several that will become increasingly more challenging and complex, with the next exercise scheduled for this fall.