Agile Flag 23-1 brings together ACC, AMC, total force partners for Lead Wing certification

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joshua Edwards, Air Combat Command Public Affairs

Agile Flag 23-1 concluded March 7, which tested the 366th Fighter Wing’s, ability to act as a Lead Wing and conduct agile combat employment operations in a flag-level contributing certifying exercise.

Agile Flag is the latest U.S. Air Force investment in capabilities that enables Lead Wings to operate at the speed, scope, complexity, and scale needed in a modern-day threat environment. The exercise focuses on increasing survivability and combat lethality through dispersion, flexibility, resiliency, agility and mission command. The essence of the exercise is the utilization of six different airfields to execute a continuous rapid scheme of maneuvers to complicate a threat’s decision process.

“Agile Flag makes us think about training differently,” said Lt. Col. Benjamin Orsua, Air Combat Command Agile Flag 23-1 exercise director. “We need to train like we fight … and the skillsets that many of our supporting agency’s practice on a daily basis are not going to pass the test in a future conflict.

“Agile Flag is an entirely different focus than other Air Force flag exercises. We have historically thought of flying as the operational side of the Air Force, and that’s essentially the aim of our famed Red Flag; perfecting the flying capabilities by integrating across major commands to solve peer threat. Agile Flag is different. Agile Flag is operationalizing other enabling disciplines such as logistics, maintenance, personal accountability and communications. What does a supporting agency, like flight line maintenance, need to do differently to minimize signatures and increase survivability in a robust threat environment? That’s Agile Flag!”

The 366th FW from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, along with Airmen from several other units, tackled the challenges of generating combat air power through contested logistics, disrupted command, control and communications, and dispersed base defense.

The 366th FW combined its own readiness mission with several other units to include Hill AFB’s F-35A Lightning II fighter operations, three Air National Guard units’ airlift capabilities, the 820th Base Defense Group’s expertise in security, and other components from various wings in order to execute agile operations throughout the exercise.

“As a Lead Wing, we organize, train and equip together every day, but now we are bringing in these additional capabilities and building a team across our base cluster,” said Col. Ernesto DiVittorio, 366th FW commander. “The Airmen that participated in Agile Flag 23-1 absolutely crushed it. I couldn’t be prouder of the job they did. I don’t just mean the members of the 366th Fighter Wing, but our partners. We were agile, flexible, we reacted real time to the threats that were presented to us, and we kept our adversaries confused with how we were going to present our airpower constantly.”

To replicate a realistic threat picture for the Lead Wing, exercise players simulated physical oppositional forces as well as a synthetic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability. While the Lead Wing worked to deploy into and out of a dynamic combat environment as an agile force package, a 15th Air Force certification team assessed how the wing conducted their mission essential tasks throughout degraded environments.

“In the past we’ve met on the battlefield as disaggregated units,” said Maj. Eric LaPrade, 15th AF current operations chief and Agile Flag 23-1 certification team lead. “Now, the Lead Wing brings the command and control, air base squadron, and mission generation force elements together as a cohesive warfighting team to give us a decisive advantage. Agile Flag gives an opportunity for 15th AF to certify a lethal and agile fighting unit to make sure our forces are ready for conflict, before conflict begins.”

The conclusion of the exercise provided ACC and 15th AF with data to continue refining Lead Wing mission essential tasks in preparation for the next iteration of Agile Flag in summer of 2023.

Future iterations of Agile Flag will remain a key contributing event toward certifying ACC’s Lead Wings to be ready and resilient forces as the command progresses towards initial operating capability for the Combat Air Force Force Generation model.