Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. --
War is an ever-changing enigma the United States military has had to adapt to over time. Since the American Revolution, the U.S. has modified its tactics to defeat its adversaries.
The Air Force is continuing this tradition of enhancing its warfighting capabilities with the Combat Support Wing exercise.
The CSW provides multifunctional training for Airmen to rapidly deploy in smaller, more efficient and agile teams, effectively creating a smaller footprint in dangerous or non-permissive areas. Simultaneously, they provide the same security and mission effectiveness as a larger unit.
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base took the reins for the CSW by hosting the exercise April 15 to May 12 with the help of Air Combat Command and AF Installation and Mission Support Center, which developed the concept.
“This is the future of fighting. You all are part of something that will keep the U.S. ahead of its enemies,” said Col. Donn Yates, 4th Fighter Wing commander, to a room of 110 Airmen participating in the exercise.
The Airmen, most with differing professions, came from 15 bases and split into three separate groups. They were told to become familiar with each other, since each Airman was going to become a multifaceted asset by learning and exercising specialties other than their own.
To start, the three groups gathered at Seymour Johnson AFB and stayed in tents simulating a deployed environment. The Airmen learned how to disassemble, load and maintain the M4 carbine, M240 Bravo and the M249 machine gun, drive and utilize the R-11 aircraft refueling vehicle, and how to receive and taxi aircraft.
“This is hands-on work, and we’re getting to actually touch the aircraft, the mission and sorties,” said Staff Sgt. Sierra Wood, 4th Civil Engineer Squadron GeoBase NCO in-charge and CSW participant. “My job is mostly an office job for creating maps, surveying land and that kind of stuff. I’m learning about so many other careers and becoming more diversified. It’s awesome and I’m glad I’m getting to be part of this opportunity.”
After a week in the tents, the exercise moved to Fort Bliss, Texas, where tactical training took place.
“We’ve got a shoot-move-communicate exercise going on where our Airmen are getting the basic steps on how to move to cover and shoot at the same time,” said Tech. Sgt. Samuel Wilhite, 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels information service center section chief and CSW cadre. “It’s very important to our mission because we’re going to be pushing out with a 20- to 30-man team, and they’re not going to have a lot of help from a fire support standpoint. They have to learn to support each other.”
The Airmen also participated in Tactical Combat Casualty Care training, secured and defended entry control points, and learned how to drive tactical vehicles like the Polaris RZR all-terrain vehicle. They also spent time firing M4s, M240 Bravos and M249s.
Their week culminated with a simulation where each group of Airmen offloaded a C-130 Hercules and executed their plans to set-up, protect, and tear-down their forward operating location.
With the training fresh in their minds, the Airmen were sent to three different locations across the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. to be put to the test. This capstone, May 9-10, encompassed all of their previous activities with an aim to prove that the CSW is the future of warfighting for the Air Force.
“Previous Secretary of Defense James Mattis provided a National Defense Strategy with a roadmap of what he believes future warfighting capabilities should provide,” said Brig. Gen. Brian Bruckbrauer, AFIMSC Expeditionary Support director. “It was very informative and explained that our military needs to be a more lethal and agile force when facing a near-peer or peer competitor. The CSW construct is a possible solution, and these Airmen are here to prove it.”