325th FW conducts first wing-wide AFFORGEN exercise

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Zeeshan Naeem
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 325th Fighter Wing recently hosted exercise Crown Royal 24-2, at Tyndall AFB, Feb. 20-March 6, 2024, to test the wing’s ability to generate, employ and sustain combat forces.

Exercises like CR 24-2 are an Air Force instruction requirement for evaluating combat readiness and improving coordination for various situational requirements.

“We want to train the way we fight; if we’re not testing our ability to do our job under strenuous conditions, how are we going to know if we’re ready to fight in a deployed environment?” said Maj. Kurt Helfrich, 325th FW inspector general. “This exercise is vital to find where friction points are so we can fail in a safe environment. This is a ‘lab’ where we can try different things, but once we’re in a combat scenario we don’t have the time or opportunities to gauge our limits.”

The exercise is broken down into two components: phase one (the generation phase) and phase two (the employment phase). Phase one involves planning for the deployment and the generation of personnel and cargo, simultaneously testing abilities to marshal those resources and prepare exercise players for phase two. The second phase simulates operating in a downrange environment while individuals wear Mission Oriented Protective Posture Gear and accomplish mission essential tasks.

“During the generation phase, people are preparing to deploy,” said Frank Labroad, 325th FW IG chief of exercise plans. “The end of the generation phase has people ‘deploying’ from the installation. The employment phase is after they have arrived at their forward location and are now executing their mission essential tasks under [simulated] combat conditions.”

As the 325th FW pivots from a training to a combat mission, coinciding with the Air Force transitioning to the Air Force Force Generation model, the wing’s focus shifts more to readiness. AFFORGEN, the first change in generating forces for combat scenarios in over 20 years, is designed to improve readiness for combat situations and improve the capabilities the Air Force provides to the joint force while also establishing a more structured cycle to prepare Airmen for downrange operations.

Helfrich stated the wing plans on standing up as a combat-ready lead wing for Air Combat Command in 2025, with the 95th Fighter Squadron ready to deploy and sustain combat forces.

“Our new [mission] being combat related requires us to change the mindset of the base,” Labroad explained. “Exercises like this are kind of a way of shaking people out of the old way of thinking. We want individuals to realize and understand how far we need to get to for our new mission and embrace the change.”

With the base-wide reconstruction continuing, CR 24-2 was employed in a unique scenario. The higher traffic on all sites resulted in the exercise transpiring dispersedly, with players performing the exercise in normal duty locations.

“It’s atypical, but we’re pushing to do the best with our situation– making lemonade out of lemons,” said Helfrich. “As the ‘Installation of the Future’ comes along, we plan on [further] mimicking that downrange environment with an exercise area.”

The 325th FW will accomplish more exercises like CR 24-2 as the AFFORGEN transition and the Ready Airman Training requirements increase. The 325th FW IG office plants to accelerate the tempo and complexity in which exercises are executed in order to produce the most ready and capable Airmen when called upon.