Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. --
Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, recently gave his commanders clear guidance on his expectations on Airmen initiative: empower leaders at every level.
He has encouraged ACC wing commanders to practice the autonomy and initiative that combat operations will require at the squadron and flight level by deploying small teams of Airmen and aircraft, for short durations, to practice the skills needed to execute adaptive basing concepts.
“If we’re going to talk about leadership in that environment then we’re going to have to build the trust and initiative in our lower components that they feel comfortable accepting risk and moving out and making decisions on their own,” Holmes said.
Holmes encouraged ACC wings plan and execute one exercise per quarter, mission permitting, and gave direction that once the exercises are complete, wing commanders receive an out-brief including lessons learned and recommendations for improvement.
A group of pilots from various fighter units across the command collaborated to form a working group, with the sole purpose of handling the need for more specialized training at the squadron level.
“A way to do that is to do a smaller scale exercise and make it more localized,” said Maj. Ocho, 94th Fighter Squadron Weapons Director of Operations at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. “As an F-22 squadron, we need to get more air-to-air exercises and prioritize that to get better at it.”
“Participating in large-scale exercises like Red Flag, which involve 100 aircraft, while invaluable, can become too routine or large and take away from the air-to-air training that the pilots feel they need,” Ocho said.
Joint Base Langley-Eustis isn’t the only base that answered Holmes’s call to empower their squadrons. Airmen from the 23d Wing, Moody Air Force Base, Georgia; the 187th Fighter Wing, Alabama Air National Guard; and Airmen from the 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, will soon converge on Tyndall in support of Exercise Stealth Guardian.
Stealth Guardian is designed to integrate and employ Air Force rescue and fifth generation assets through real-world exercise scenarios similar to a deployed or contingency environment. These scenarios are designed to challenge these specific assets in complex rescue scenarios, exploring new tactics and innovative uses of existing technology to more effectively prosecute rescue.