Revolutionizing Air Power: Agile Combat Employment, Multi-Capable Airmen enable swift adaptation in evolving mission requirements

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ramon A. Adelan
  • 9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

In an era of rapid global shifts and evolving near-peer adversaries, the United States Air Force has embraced an operational concept known as Agile Combat Employment (ACE). This innovative approach emphasizes flexibility, adaptability, and the effective utilization of Multi-Capable Airmen (MCA) to enhance air power.

The convergence of ACE and MCA ushered in a transformative paradigm, empowering the Air Force to respond swiftly and effectively to dynamic combat environments across the world.

Airmen assigned to the 9th Operation Support Squadron seized the opportunity to strengthen their MCA abilities by conducting landing zone officer training with the California National Guard A Company 3-104th Security and Support Aviation Battalion, June 13 here.

These Airmen received extensive cross-training, equipping them with expertise in multiple areas including air traffic control, airfield management and weather operations through the MCA Academy here prior to the joint training with the 3-104th SSAB UH-72 Lakota support.

“The programs we’re implementing to cross-train our OSS Airmen derive and were developed by combat control and special tactic officers,” said Master Sgt. Nate Van Dyne, 9th OSS assistant chief controller. “Essentially this program was initiated by OSS Airmen filling a critically manned shortfall in the special tactic’s community. We may not have the same combative abilities, but we fall in line to be directly attached to their teams, in most case, to support the air element.”

Conventional warfare characterized by stationary air bases and predictable battlefields may be a thing of the past. The Air Force recognizes the need for flexibility and resilience in the face of emerging threats that demand rapid response and distributed operations. ACE revolutionizes how airpower is projected and sustained in contested environments.

“Under the Air Force Force Generation construct, our Airmen with these capabilities here can nest in with another wing who are going down range to be able to set up a main operating base then do the hub and spoke operations in that theater as needed,” said Capt. Aaron Church, 9th OSS airfield operations flight commander. “These are capabilities that our members could go work with A-10s, C-17s, C-130s or allied aircraft and that could be on a roadway somewhere, a crushed air strip out in the Pacific or it could be just about anywhere. We could go plug and play with whatever unit we’re assigned to support out in the field.”

At the heart of ACE lies the concept of MCA, an innovative approach to personnel management. The Air Force is cultivating Airmen with diverse skill sets capable of seamlessly transitioning between various specialties. These Airmen form the backbone of ACE, enabling the Air Force to adapt swiftly to evolving mission requirements.

“Realistically the Air Force wants more combat control capability and within our three core specialties, we’re cross-training our Airmen just enough of what the others do,” Church said. “An airfield management Airmen who works flight plans and inspects runways could talk to aircraft, could provide them the weather, or could talk them into the landing zone. We’re trying to multiply and expand this capability across the Air Force to supplement something they really want, an unlimited amount of combat controllers and special tactics.”

MCA empowers Airmen to go beyond the boundaries of their primary specialties, fostering a culture of adaptability and innovation. This results in a more agile, collaborative force capable of rapidly adapting to changing operational landscapes.

The integration of ACE and MCA also strengthens the ability to operate alongside joint and coalition partners. Training Airmen enhances interoperability to be versatile and cross-functional enabling seamless integration with partner forces. International cooperation maybe crucial, with ACE and MCA as the foundation for joint operations that transcend boundaries and achieve shared objectives.