NAVAL AIR STATION KEFLAVIK, Iceland --
Approximately 200 Ninth Air Force, joint and coalition partners participated in Staff Exercise 20-2 Feb. 6 through 15.
STAFFEX 20-2 is the fourth iteration of exercises since achieving initial operating capability for the Ninth AF to test tactics and procedures, develop best practices and identify areas of improvement to be fully operationally capable as a Joint Task Force.
These exercises are also intended to provide participating services the opportunity to network, hone problem-solving skills and processes to become more adept in the Combined JTF headquarters role.
“I oversee injects and what our Combined Exercise Control Group is doing to facilitate the scenario, as well as anything external with the host nation,” said Col. Jason Jensen, Ninth AF Training and Exercise director. “Our next fight is going to be alongside our coalition partners. Wherever we go around the globe, we are no longer doing it as a single fight.”
With assistance from the Iceland Coast Guard and local agencies, JTF members received the resources and opportunities to simulate possible scenarios and brainstorm tactics to help accomplish the mission while keeping host-nation sensitivities in mind.
“Iceland as the host nation has been very gracious, very hospitable and all around amazing hosts,” Jensen said. “It has been a great partnership since the very beginning; their concerns are effectively my concerns.”
With the continued support from the Icelandic Government, coalition forces focused on the mission at hand.
“Working with our coalition forces is what makes these types of exercises interesting and exciting,” said Lt. Col. Bryon Sheriff, Ninth AF liaison officer. “We come together globally in order to respond to any type of scenario, from humanitarian, military response and natural disasters. It’s been integrated drastically in the last decade.”
Sheriff went on to say working synergistically helps keep all partner nations' interests in mind when completing the mission.
In addition to the U.S. and Iceland, the participating nations in STAFFEX 20-2 included Canada, Germany, Italy, Norway, and the United Kingdom.
“If we’re going (into a conflict) alone, that’s a very negative situation,” said Brian Carney, STAFFEX 20-2 culture advisor. “As a culture advisor, I have the opportunity to advise the commander and staff on how to maintain cohesion of the coalition. I’ve often heard it said that ‘practice makes perfect’, but I found that not to be true, ‘perfect practice makes perfect.’”
During the exercise, Lt. Gen. Steven Basham, deputy commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, served as the CJTF commander. In this role he supervised operations and examined the JTF headquarters battle rhythm.
“This exercise supports the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff's priority of strengthening joint leaders and teams,” Basham said. “When we can bring together this many Airmen alongside our joint and coalition partners, we enhance the ability to effectively address security threats, while building capability and capacity to improve effectiveness and interoperability across all domains.”
Following the conclusion of the exercise, participants gathered for an end-of-exercise briefing to discuss strengths and way-ahead for the Ninth Air Force to become fully operational as a JTF.