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    Iron Hand 23-04 tests 20th FW’s application of ACE fundamentals

    Iron Hand 23-04 tests 20th FW’s application of ACE fundamentals

    Photo By Senior Airman Meghan Hutton | U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Duchaine Paul, 20th Security Forces Squadron installation...... read more read more

    SHAW AFB, SC, UNITED STATES

    04.26.2023

    Story by Airman 1st Class Meghan Hutton 

    20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

    SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- On April 24, Airmen from groups across Shaw Air Force Base were flown to the North Auxiliary Airfield, S.C., on C-17 Globemaster aircraft, assigned to Joint Base Charleston, S.C. As the Airmen stepped off the aircraft, they looked to their right to see a dense woodland area, to their left an unfamiliar flightline, and in front of them an expanse of flat, open field.

    The Airmen, clad in helmets and tactical vests, unloaded their limited supplies and began constructing tents used for rest, command and control operations, and food preparation. After propping up a mix of one-man tents and larger multiple occupancy tents, comprising a "tent city" along the forest, the Airmen quickly established defensive fighting positions on both sides of the camp, using supplies brought on the aircraft and foliage from the wooded area nearby.

    This simulated deployment served as another test of the 20th Fighter Wing’s (FW) Agile Combat Employment (ACE) capabilities during exercise Iron Hand 23-04, April 24-28.

    The employment of ACE is a step toward tackling a new and contested global environment while maximizing flexibility. Airmen are trained in a way that ensures the U.S. Air Force remains a formidable force in the changing global dynamics, further strengthening combat readiness and agility of deployed forces, and strengthening bonds with allies to secure common interests and promote shared values.

    “As you progress through ranks and progress through life, part of gaining wisdom is through context,” said Capt. Greg “Ice” Rinker, 20th Fighter Wing director of strategic plans and programs (A8) and studies, analyses, and assessments (A9). “At a minimum, [through Multi-Capable Airman training and this exercise] we’re providing a large degree of context to these Airmen for things they wouldn’t have seen until 10, maybe 15 years into their careers.”

    Using problem solving skills was a crucial component of Iron Hand (IH) 23-04, Airmen learned to integrate among all communities at the forward operating site (FOS) and solve problems that they would not normally face in their respective career fields.

    “Shaw’s Airmen have stepped up tremendously,” said Rinker. “We are very grateful to the groups for sending us enthusiastic participants.”

    The Multi-Capable Airman (MCA) program is a key component of ACE, critical to the execution of ACE downrange. The goal of MCA is to develop Airmen trained in expeditionary skills such as Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), M4 carbine weapons familiarization, operating tactical radios and night vision devices, and establishing defensive positions. The implementation of the MCA concept can reduce the number of Airmen put in harm's way to generate airpower as compared to traditional manning models.

    Upon completion of the MCA training program, Airmen are provided with advanced skills outside a member's core career field in mission generation, command and control, and base operating support in challenging, contested environments. These cross-functional teams have the ability to maintain mission readiness and achieve mission success with the limited personnel and resources of a FOS.

    “Multi-Capable Airmen [have] the basic fundamental military skills that every Airman should know,” said Master Sgt. Gavin Saiz, 20th Security Forces Squadron non-commissioned officer in charge of operations and Shaw MCA lead. “A lot of the Airmen that go through the course really enjoy it because of how useful the skills we teach them are. We make sure they know how to use those skills, apply them and when they come out here, they’re prepared.”

    IH 23-04 simulated the dangers and obstacles faced at a FOS. The enlisted members and officers in charge of the event orchestrate scenarios to evaluate the Airmen’s capabilities to problem-solve and react well under pressure. One of these dangers was a simulated attack on the FOS, or an ‘alarm red’.

    “We had two individuals that came from the woods,” said Senior Airman Duchaine Paul, 20th Security Forces installation patrolman, in reference to a simulated FOS defense exercise. “Our team lead was shot and [killed in action] so Staff Sgt. Beard had to take over everything. While that was happening, other people stepped up and helped out.”

    Airmen from all career fields had to drop what they were doing, pick up their weapons, and defend the camp. Airmen threw aside their toothbrushes to pick up their weapons, pulling on their boots over bare feet in the scramble to get outside and help their wingmen. Two Airmen, one in full combat gear, the other in physical training gear, carried their fallen team lead to safety while their teammates provided cover fire and security.

    “It was a bit of a scramble at first. I was a little stressed out at the initial conflict,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Beard, 20th Security Forces Squadron evaluator. “But once we got our bearings and figured out what we were doing, we executed the mission well.”

    With ever-changing threats arising, an Airman’s ability to adapt to an unfamiliar environment is pertinent now more than ever. Agility and adaptability to these threats is critical to mission success, and keeping Airmen mobile with multifaceted skills is crucial to both mission capabilities and resiliency. The employment of IH 24-03 allowed the 20th Fighter Wing to identify strengths and weaknesses in the ACE and MCA programs and better prepare for the future.

    “This is definitely where the Air Force is heading ,” said Capt. Eric “Hype” Holm, 79th Fighter Squadron pilot and IH 23-04 day shift mission commander. “We need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, deploying to places with less supporting functions than what we’re used to, and getting comfortable being in austere locations with less infrastructure.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 04.26.2023
    Date Posted: 05.24.2023 09:32
    Story ID: 445410
    Location: SHAW AFB, SC, US

    Web Views: 317
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN