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ACC Strategic Validation Exercise Four – Agile Combat Employment and CAFFORGEN

An Airman stands in front of a jet.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tom Dodd, 27th Fighter Squadron weapons team chief, marshals an F-22 Raptor to park during the Agile Combat Exercise at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Jan. 14, 2021. ACE enhances asset capability between the C-130 Hercules and F-22 Raptor by utilizing the C-130’s ability to deliver cargo in simulated remote environments, allowing the weapons teams to quickly and safely unload gear, mount weapons and return the jet to the fight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ericha Fitzgerald)

Photo of U.S. Air Force Airmen sitting at a table

20th Fighter Wing commander, Col. Lawrence Sullivan (head of the table) and staff attending the 505th Command and Control Wing’s Agile Combat Employment command and control training at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Aug. 18, 2021. The 505th CCW’s ACE training team provided academics, guided discussions, and table-top exercise allowing the 20th FW leadership to solve real-world problems under the mentoring and instruction of the 505th’s C2 subject matter experts. The C2 lessons prepared the 20th FW and their expeditionary fighter squadron to execute wing-level Exercise IRON HAND. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Two Airmen working on a laptop connected to equipment.

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Senior Airman Christofer Sepulveda, left, 51st Combat Communications Squadron radio frequency technician, and Airman 1st Class Alden Peraino, 51st CBCS cyber transport technician, test equipment at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, April 20, 2021, prior to packing it onto pallets for support to exercises Agile Flag and Mobility Guardian. The exercises were designed to test and train Airmen and their equipment in the event of a need for rapid deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rodney Speed)

Photo of an Airman drawing a range card

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Gave Freolo, 822d Base Defense Squadron fireteam member, draws a range card to project potential enemies before exercise Agile Flag 21-2 at Naval Outlying Landing Field Choctaw, Florida, May 1, 2021. The 822d BDS’ role in Agile Flag was to provide the 4th Fighter Wing with a scalable security element at the forward operating base in order to facilitate integrated combat turns from multi-capable Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jasmine M. Barnes)

A photo of F-35 Lightning II maintenance

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Lincoln Wood, 34th Fighter Generation Squadron weapons load crew member, drives an MJ-1 bomb lift truck to load an inert AIM-120, onto an F-35A Lightning ll, during an Agile Combat Employment Exercise, at Mt. Home Air Force Base, April 27th, 2021. During the exercise, the FGS tested their capability to quick-turn jets in a small scale combat scenario. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Codie Trimble)


Air Combat Command welcomed Active-Duty wing commanders and their designated representatives from 28 wings within the command to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia for the Strategic Validation Exercise 4, August 31 – Sept.1, 2021. 

As the fourth iteration of the SVE series, this exercise was dedicated to stress-testing and refining key concepts of the new Air Force Generation (AFFORGEN) model, force presentation (AFFORPRES), and Agile Combat Employment (ACE) at the Wing level of operations. This exercise also builds on its previous iterations which brought together key senior leaders to discuss AFFORGEN reform and develop ACE as an operating concept.

“The goal of SVE4 is to bring together our wing commanders and address the long-term big rock issues for the Air Force with AFFORGEN and ACE concepts,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Slocum, ACC director of operations. “With the model we’ve had, the Air Force was eating up readiness faster than we could maintain it. AFFORGEN addresses that issue for our future Combat Ready Forces to be available for any high end fight.”

AFFORGEN is the new force generation model for building sustainable, high-end airpower readiness for the Joint Force. The model restructures force generation into four phases that span over a 24-month cycle: Available, Reset, Prepare, and Ready. During SVE 4, Wing Commanders were asked to work through how they would establish, train, prepare and present their forces to combatant commanders under the new model.

“Under the current AEF construct, we’ve lacked the ability to present an easily understood model that reflected all facets of airpower and the ability to clearly articulate readiness impacts,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. “After nearly two decades of demanding rotational deployments, we are shifting to a model that builds high-end and sustainable readiness toward future missions by balancing elements of current availability, modernization and risk.”

The second concept, Agile Combat Employment, is a proactive and reactive operational scheme of maneuver executed within threat timelines to increase survivability while generating combat power.

“You can compare ACE to boxing, you want to stay out of the reach of your adversary, but be able to step inside their reach, perform combat requirements and get out,” said Maj. Cody Moore, force integration branch chief, ACC future operations division. “This allows our forces and Airmen to step back, out of harm’s way and then go back in when the adversary is not expecting it.”

The conclusion of the exercise provided commanders and key staff valuable feedback on the way ahead for implementing AFFORGEN and ACE to meet the Air Force’s goal of initial operating capability in fiscal year 2023. Examples of things the ACC team is taking into considerations are; pilot flying hour programs, aircraft maintenance timelines, all-domain training opportunities, ACE communication requirements, and professional military education for Airmen across the command.

“There are a lot of variables to AFFORGEN and ACE, we will try things and adjust as needed, and we surely won’t get it 100% correct at the start, but that is why we test and apply lessons to make it better,” Slocum said. “You’re part of massive change that’s coming for our forces for the future fight…this is an exciting time to be in the Air Force and bring needed change for our warfighters.”