552nd Air Control Wing showcases Agile Combat Employment at Agile Thunder 22-02

  • Published
  • By Meagan Hannon
  • 552nd Air Control Wing

The 552nd Air Control Wing recently concluded Agile Thunder 22-02, a multi-wing, multi-location exercise to test operational readiness and agility. The exercise was conducted under various constraints enacted by the Inspector General within a limited timeframe, in an effort to meet the 552 ACW commander’s performance intent, and group commanders’ readiness objectives.  

This iteration of the exercise focused on E-3 Sentry aircraft employment, and included the 552 ACW’s geographically separated unit at Mountain Home AFB. The Air Combat Command’s IG, as well as local IG teams, were at the 552 ACW at Tinker AFB to evaluate exercise execution. 

Col. Keven Coyle, commander of the 552 ACW spoke about the multi-faceted exercise, stating: “This was the largest generation and employment exercise in the last 20 years, where we incorporated the complexities of employing Agile Combat support elements, utilized multi-capable airmen, and executed dynamic force employment concepts of the E-3G DRAGON.”

Phase one consisted of partnering with the 72nd Logistics Readiness Squadron to pack and assemble cargo in chalks, and preparing equipment and personnel for deployment to “Base X.”

“The 72nd Air Base Wing played a key role in getting the 552 ACW out the door during phase one, the ‘Generation Phase’,” said Maj. Winston Jean-Pierre, director of exercises for the 552 ACW IG. “For the first time in a great while, we had 72nd Security Forces combine with 552 ACW maintenance, aircrew and flight equipment personnel for real-world flying on the E-3 during the phase one fly-off. This was integral in exercising defense and ground support of the E-3 during phase two.” 

Part of ACC’s overall Agile Combat Employment campaign is to disburse operational locations from larger condensed areas to smaller isolated locations. In phase two of this exercise, the 552 ACW did just that. 

Airmen performed this phase from multiple locations simultaneously. Simulated chemical attacks, various threats, changes in force protection conditions and actions associated with each, as well as redirection to a local airport were all incorporated into phase two.

Each step, in each phase of the exercise was graded by the IG offices. Jean-Pierre explained, “This is important because we have an aging fleet as well as a large cargo and personnel footprint. To be relevant in an agile combat employment environment, we need to reduce our cargo and personnel demands, increase the capability and reliability of our systems, as well as the readiness and competency of our airmen.”

He went on to say, “The only way we can learn the Wing's shortfalls is through rigorous exercises that identify areas to focus our training.”

It was challenging to execute in the high temps of one of Oklahoma City’s hottest summers while minimizing simulated portions of the exercise to demonstrate true readiness. Coyle stated, “This exercise highlighted the challenges associated with rapidly deploying large aircraft and crews, demonstrated the immense skill of our maintenance crews to generate these legacy aircraft, and energized concepts that will be fruitful as we compete in the global environment of the future.

“Exercising is critical to understanding our own short-comings and finding ingenious ways to overcome the fog and friction of executing Joint All Domain Command and Control initiatives with multi-capable airmen in new environments, under the pressure of time.  I was very impressed and immensely pleased with the Airmen of the 552 ACW, whose focus and perseverance were key to the success of this endeavor.”