COMACC visits 505th CCW, the center of operational C2 excellence

  • Published
  • By Deb Henley, 505th Command and Control Wing Public Affairs
  • 505th Command and Control Wing

Gen. Mark Kelly, the commander of Air Combat Command, visited the 505th Command and Control Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida, Jan. 27.   

During the visit, COMACC met with Col. Frederick “Trey” Coleman, 505th Command and Control Wing commander, and his team of group and squadron commanders to discuss the ways in which the 505th is accelerating and advancing operational-level command and control through testing, training, and the development of C2 tactics, techniques, and procedures. 

The 505th’s motto is, “At the Heart of It.” Coleman told Gen. Kelly he chose that motto because the 505th is home to the largest pool of operational C2 experts in the U.S. Air Force. 

“We have hundreds of C2 experts in this wing, many of whom have been in this game for decades,” said Coleman.

Coleman highlighted that although the 505th CCW’s mission focuses primarily on testing and training, the wing ultimately serves as a direct support unit to the Air Component commanders.  “We work for the CFACCs [Combined Forces Air Component Commander],” said Coleman. “Our mission is to support the Air Components in whatever way they need as they fight and win our nation’s wars. And nobody is better suited to provide this support than the men and women of the 505th.”

Operational C2 training

The 505th Test and Training Group leadership briefed COMACC on how their Airmen lead service-wide impacts for battle management weapon systems and C2 concepts by delivering test, evaluation, training, and tactics development. In addition, Gen. Kelly learned how the 605th Test and Evaluation Squadron leverages emerging technologies to enhance automated sensor-to-shooter capabilities while developing the tactics, techniques and procedures warfighters can use today

The 705th Training Squadron then updated COMACC on several initiatives to aid the USAF in accelerating operational C2 dominance. The first initiative establishes a new Air Component Senior Leadership Course focused on equipping joint and coalition O-6 leaders to operate across the Air Component functions, thereby removing structural barriers between component-level staffs and Air Operations Centers.

Lead Wing Agile Combat Employment training

The 505th TTG continues to evolve its training approaches to stay aligned to developments within the USAF’s readiness models and new employment concepts. Currently, the 705th TRS is developing and leading ACC's Lead Wing training to ensure organizations can integrate as seamlessly as possible with theater operational and tactical C2 entities. This Lead Wing training is also assisting in the maturing of ACE concepts and informing internal wing reorganizational design efforts.  

"It was great to showcase the depth and breadth of advance C2 operational knowledge that the 705th TRS possesses and how the unit is evolving its mission/courses to equip Airmen with the knowledge to be successful across the conflict continuum and most importantly, win during major combat operations," said Lt. Col. Marcus Bryan, 705th TRS commander. "We highlighted [that] the 705th TRS has been the center of delivering Lead Wing training, and we will continue to aid ACC in refining Lead Wing and ACE concepts."

Operational-C2 planner training

The final initiative discussed was the current Multi-Domain Warfare Officer initial skills training program. The discussion focused on the capabilities the graduates provide to operational theaters and stressed the need to continue providing this critical operational-C2 planning training to USAF and joint service members. This sentiment was echoed by Gen. Kelly and his willingness to stay engaged in the education of Multi-Domain Warfare Officers further highlights the importance of this role of the 705th TRS.

Gateway to the AOC/Air Component 

The 505th TRS discussed with COMACC how they are modernizing operational C2 training courses by introducing their students to peer-competitor conflict and the emerging C2 concepts needed to prevail in a large-scale conflict. The squadron's experienced cadre also discussed how they maintain currency and relevance, their plans to renovate the AOC initial qualification training scenario, and the computer systems modernizations underway for the schoolhouse's IT infrastructure. For example, the 505th TRS has recently started the integration Kessel Run AOC Block 20 familiarization training into the curriculum. These critical course updates allow the 505th TRS to continue to graduate C2 operators ready to accelerate and innovate change in their AOCs.

"The 505th Training Squadron is the first stop for personnel going out to AOCs, and it is critical we give them a solid foundation in AOC operations," said Lt. Col. Kari Mott, 505th TRS commander. "The world's AOC experts are the instructors in the 505th CCW and the 505th TRS, and we are putting our efforts into the squadron's infrastructure to catch up with the instructor expertise and the systems the AOCs are actually using."

Col. Adam Shelton, 505th TTG commander, shared how the group's priorities align not only with the wing's operational design but also conforms to strategic-level guidance such as the Department of the Air Force's operational imperatives, Advanced Battle Management, or ABMS, campaign plan, Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, supporting concepts, and recent doctrine on C2 and ACE. 

The 505th CCW's motto is 'At the Heart of It,' which, according to Shelton, aptly describes his Airmen. They are the "U.S. Air Force's most talented experts in operational C2 with a deep and talented bench of C2 test/evaluation professionals; we continue to drive testing, training, and evaluations to advance a necessary evolution in C2 while building towards ABMS solutions and operationalizing ACE concepts." 

Shelton continued, "Our USAF senior leaders have been very clear. We need to stop starting and deliver. This is where the 505th TTG fits in," stated Shelton. "Test and training are not separate stovepipe actions in developing capabilities and concepts. Instead, it is imperative to have them embedded early and often to make buzzwords like ‘agile’ and ‘lean’ real. With battle management and command and control as the centerpiece of ABMS and JADC2, the role of the 505th TTG is critically linked to make these ideas reality."

The 505th Combat Training Group commander, Col. Aaron Gibney, explained to COMACC how the Shadow Operations Center-Nellis, or ShOC-N, is an integral part of the USAF’s ABMS Battle Lab construct. Located at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, ShOC-N facilitates the selection, experimentation, testing, and transitioning of ABMS capabilities.

“Our Airmen are laser focused on the pacing threat and are passionately working to get capability in the hands of warfighters as soon as possible. At ShOC-N, we bring new concepts, hardware, and software together and present them to the warfighter for direct feedback in order to present new war-winning opportunities to our Air Components,” said Gibney.  

Dual-hatted as the JADC2 Battle Lab, ShOC-N is maturing its key partnerships with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, USAF Rapid Capabilities Office, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Joint Staff, and Headquarters Air Force as it hears the increasing demand from the warfighter to accelerate C2 innovations. 

Gibney continued, “The ultimate goal is to present technologies which compress our decision making timelines—specifically our deliberate C2 planning processes and the dynamic kill chain.”

Evolving large-scale joint and coalition exercises

Lt. Col. Aarron Cornine, 505th Combat Training Squadron commander, and Lt. Col. Pong Anderson, 505th CTS assistant director of operations, briefed Gen. Kelly on the squadron's current support to USAF and joint exercises and the upcoming BLUE FLAG 22-1 exercise and the revolutionary change on the horizon. 

"BLUE FLAG has evolved from a tactical command and control exercise to a realistic and dynamic replication of real-world pacing challenges," said Cornine. "At present, we focus on a standalone BLUE FLAG event; in the future, we will deliver more options to support Air Component commanders with updated guidance from Air Combat Command."

Anderson highlighted the 505th CTS's upcoming BLUE FLAG exercise and experience employed in the exercise High Control Cell, noting that within the 150-person squadron, there are more than 1800 years of command and control experience. Additionally, the 505th CTS has six exercises in April alone, providing AOC and Air Component replication for three separate Air Components, one Carrier Strike Group, one [U.S.] Army Corps, and one Marine Expeditionary Force exercises.

Digital Infrastructure Modernization 

Gen. Kelly learned about the digital infrastructure modernization efforts underway to support the wing's evolving mission set. The 505th Communications Squadron's focus is modernizing its service delivery capabilities, allowing operators to locally access on-site systems or remotely access systems hosted from other locations across the globe in support of over 30 exercises and events each year. Lt. Col. Veronica Williams, 505th Communications Squadron commander, also highlighted efforts to develop the connections and access necessary to support AOCs in a contingency situation more directly. 

"The key to ensuring success is being flexible and agile," said Williams. "As more, newer systems come online and are incorporated into Air Operations Centers, my team develops and executes the technical solutions that enable the Command and Control Wing to tailor their support to meet the needs of any Air Component commander."

Simultaneous live, virtual, and constructive large-scale training environment 

Lt. Col. Lindsay Post briefed Gen. Kelly on how the Distributed Missions Operations Center, or DMOC, is the ideal venue for joint tactical operators in the air domain to practice mission command enabling Agile Combat Employment at the scale of a major theater war. She also briefed that future VIRTUAL FLAG exercises will focus on joint tactical C2 integration and integrating the theater air control system into the USAF's only large-scale training event.

"The DMOC is proficient at developing scenarios that can create the conditions at scale to practice distributed control and decentralized execution in a virtual environment without the real-world considerations of range time, fuel cost, logistical deployment, etc.," said Post, 705th Combat Training Squadron commander, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. "The virtual environment the DMOC offers is a low-cost/low-risk option to train to some of the most difficult concepts with our coalition partners and across the services."

Joint All-Domain Command and Control

The Shadow Operations Center-Nellis, the USAF's JADC2 battle laboratory, discussed its focus on partnership building (emphasis on allies), moving toward a persistent experimentation environment, and contributing to a comprehensive data strategy including collection storage and analysis. 

Exceptional Performers

Throughout the tour, Gen. Kelly seized several opportunities to personally recognize several of the 505th CCW's best and brightest innovators for their hard work and dedication to the mission and encouraged them to continue innovating.

  • Airman First Class Tashina Bautista, 505th CTS 
  • David Hetzler, 705th TRS
  • Senior Airman Joseph Roy, 505th Training Squadron

Headquartered at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, ACC is the primary provider of air combat forces to the U.S. warfighting commanders. The command provides command, control, communications, and intelligence systems; operates fighter, reconnaissance, battle-management, and electronic-combat aircraft; and conducts global information operations.