4 FW executes ACE at AGILE FLAG 21-2

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Katrina Heikkinen
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 4th Fighter Wing recently demonstrated their ability to rapidly generate combat air power and sustain readiness from multiple austere locations in a degraded operational environment.

Airmen from the 4th FW, exercising as the 4th Air Expeditionary Wing, employed mission generation, command and control, and base operating support-integration elements during AGILE FLAG 21-2 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, April 26 to May 7.

For Maj. KJ Randhawa, 4th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintenance operations officer, his role has been the command and control of the maintenance and logistics movements of aircraft during the exercise.

“My role has been overseeing movements for the F-22 Raptors and the F-15E Strike Eagles across four locations we’ve been operating in during this exercise,” Randhawa said.

“This exercise has gone very well,” Randhawa added. “We had to mitigate quite a few logistical and weather issues. The whole [wing] did a great job of executing the mission and overcoming those challenges. We’ve had great leadership throughout this whole process to clarify the most important priorities.”

Under the ACE concept of operations, lead wings align, train and exercise in order to arrive in theater as a fully combat capable force ready to forward project airpower for a combatant commander. Establishing and maintaining communication is critical for ACE operations.

The 5th Combat Communications Group from Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, provided a significant portion of communications support.

“The Airmen from the 4th Communications Squadron and Robins were able to

provide a robust communications infrastructure that’s also agile enough to be able to move around the battlefield,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Fox, 4th CS commander.

While the concept of ACE may be new for many multi-capable Airmen, its core functions are familiar to all Airmen. The strength of ACE is that its mission is not revolutionary. A key aspect of ACE is the Air Base Squadron.

“ABS is the lead wing support squadron,” said Maj. Railene Banks, 4th FW ACE planner. “By design and necessity, it is scalable and deployable.”

Multi-capable Airmen are the backbone of the ABS.

“Depending on the mission set and area of operations, we can scale our support teams to meet different mission sets based on combatant commanders’ needs,” said Chief Master Sgt. Benjamin Fitzgerald, 4th Maintenance Group superintendent. 

According to Maj. Theodore Ornelas, 4th Civil Engineer Squadron operations flight commander, “MCA can go into an austere location, turn jets, and exfiltrate on-call. During AGILE FLAG, we built a complete tent city using only assets organic to the 4 FW.”

The 4th FW began exercising individual ACE functions in 2019, and focused intently on preparing for AGILE FLAG in October 2020 with its first in-house exercise.

“This was a total 4th Fighter Wing effort,” said Col. Kurt Helphinstine, 4th FW Commander. “Our Airmen overcame several real-world challenges during the exercise and performed exceptionally. ACE is the future of expeditionary warfighting, and AGILE FLAG demonstrated that the 4th Fighter Wing remains lethal and ready to deploy as a lead wing and complete the mission anywhere on a moment’s notice.”