U.S. Air Force Completes Test of “Innovative Warfighting Concept”

The U.S Air Force completed the final test of an innovative warfighting concept May 12 that could be a game-changer for future adaptive-basing constructs.

The Combat Support Wing proof-of-concept capstone exercise developed by the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center and hosted by Air Combat Command’s 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, tested the ability of three teams of about 30 Airmen each to establish and operate an airfield in an austere environment. They had to defend the base and refuel and rearm F-15E Strike Eagles using multifunctional skills they learned during training events over the past month.

“We’ve seen monumental improvements in the ability of our Airmen to do things outside of their normal career fields and the speed at which they’re able to refuel and rearm jets,” said Brig. Gen. Brian Bruckbauer, AFIMSC director of expeditionary support and innovation. Bruckbauer’s directorate led the planning and execution of the exercise.

 

190509-F-HV022-1365.JPG
Airmen from multiple Air Force specialty codes perform a hot-pit refuel on an F-15E Strike Eagle during the Combat Support Wing capstone at Kinston Regional Jetport, N.C., May 9, 2019 A hot-pit is a term used to describe a jet being refueled on the ground while the engines are running. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kenneth Boyton)

The concept supports National Defense Strategy priorities to evolve innovative operational concepts and enhance lethality in contested environments. If fielded, the CSW concept could give the Air Force the ability to rapidly deploy in smaller, more efficient and agile teams to austere and potentially contested areas. Under the multifunctional construct, weapons loaders could drive a refueling truck, security forces defenders could refuel a jet and avionics specialists could provide airfield security while also performing their primary duties.

CSW is an outcome of the 2017 AFIMSC Installation and Mission Support Weapons and Tactics Conference. The capstone was the final event in a phased rollout of the concept over the past year. It tested the hub-and-spoke operations of a single forward operating base at Seymour Johnson AFB and three forward operating locations at Kinston Regional Jetport, Moody AFB, Georgia, and MacDill AFB, Florida.

“We had at least 15 different Air Force specialty codes come in to attack the problem of how to conduct integrated combat turns with as few people and the smallest logistics footprint as possible,” said Col. Erik Rundquist, AFIMSC Detachment 8 commander, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, who was one of the primary architects responsible for turning the concept into practicable exercise scenarios.

Master Sgt. Jason Knepper, an Air Force Security Forces Center flight chief, joined the CSW cadre in January as a security forces functional lead. He’s said he’s seen “tons” of progress since capstone participants began training in mid-April.

“We went from individual troops who had their skillset and a vague understanding about what everyone else was doing to now where you’ve got maintainers manning defensive fighting positions and cops helping refuel jets,” Knepper said. “The construct for the multifunction approach is working really well. The people who built those pieces did a phenomenal job and now we’re seeing it work.”

He said Airmen can execute the concept very well when given the opportunity, training and motivation to see why it’s important. The AFIMSC Expeditionary Support Directorate is now expected to produce a report for Air Force leaders that includes data on more than 100 measures of effectiveness.

“We’ll be able to provide our senior leaders with a very thorough analysis and some very good recommendations going forward on force structure, force presentation and multi-functional training with the goal of using this concept in our operational plans,” Bruckbauer said.

The CSW concept will be included in the Rapid Forge exercise scheduled for July 10-26 in Europe.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s