15th Wing strengthens ACE, MRA training in Agile Reaper

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Tarelle Walker
  • 15th Wing Public Affairs

 Approximately 225 Team Hickam personnel participated in Exercise Agile Reaper 24-1, which kicked off on 2 April, 2024 at a bare base site in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands.

Agile Reaper is an agile combat employment (ACE) driven exercise, designed to ensure the 11th Air Force can operate as a cohesive team, focusing on the skills needed to optimize wartime operational mission generation. Agile Reaper gave the 15th Wing the opportunity to exercise transitioning from supporting regular operations to an expeditionary status. It was also the first time the wing was able to exercise the deployment of a Mission Generation Force Element (MGFE) in accordance with the Air Force Generation model.

“We are here to employ the MGFE concept, which establishes a forward foothold to generate airlift missions in support of theater objectives,” Lt. Col. Logan Sutton, 535th Airlift Squadron commander explained. “The MGFE’s minimum footprint relies heavily on the skills, ingenuity and resilience of mission ready Airmen.”

Exercises like Agile Reaper employ concepts from the hub-and-spoke model, which enables Airmen to operate out of a main operating base while providing increased mobility and connection to supporting bases within a region. For this exercise, Hickam Field acted as the hub, where a small, advanced team deployed from, and Saipan was the spoke, where Airmen built up an undeveloped site into a fully functioning base capable of supporting both mission requirements and sustaining the needs of Airmen. The exercise demonstrated the Wing’s ability to support distributed operations between Hickam, Saipan and Guam.

“The Airmen landed in Saipan with limited resources and quickly worked to secure food, water, shelter and operational necessities,” Sutton said. “These competencies have been exercised routinely in specialized military units. However, doing so at scale with mission ready Airmen increases the flexibility and effectiveness of joint maneuver forces throughout the theater.”

Sutton went on to outline the main objectives for the team of Airmen who were tasked to carry out the required operations for the exercise.

“The goal is to develop resilient warfighters who are confident in their ability to execute using mission-type orders, generate airlift sorties in a contested environment with limited resources and grow together as a diverse team while gaining familiarity with other career fields,” Sutton said.

On Saipan While Saipan acted as the spoke, the team generated a combined 38 sorties, enabling over 600 personnel and over 973k lbs. of cargo to be airlifted across the Pacific over a two-week period. To accomplish this, Airmen worked together, and often outside of their traditional duties, to ensure supplies and personnel got to where they needed to be.

Many operations had Airmen working outside their comfort zones. One instance had Airmen collaborating from multiple Air Force Specialty Codes with civil engineering to build 16 small shelter systems. Staff Sgt. Donovan Souza, 647th Civil Engineer Squadron civil engineer, talked about the experience he had leading a team of more inexperienced Airmen through the process.

“To be honest, I was impressed. I was impressed with the effort and the positive attitude,” Souza said. “Without everyone’s help this could not have happened. Everyone came from their different AFSC’s, worked with each other, helped each other and asked questions. Everyone was humble and was not afraid to get their hands dirty and get ready to work and sweat so I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity.”

The 15th Wing also sent a 38 member Wing Inspection Team to observe each career field in the exercise environment. Maj. Justin Stanley, 15th Wing Inspection Team director, discussed the role WIT members play in situations like this one.

“We are here to inspect, verify and validate our wing’s capability to generate, employ and sustain combat capability across the INDOPACOM area of responsibility,” Stanley explained. “Our goal is to have our Airmen critically think, demonstrate their problem-solving skills and respond effectively to the scenarios we present them,” he added.

As the onsite WIT director, Stanley was able to observe mission ready Airmen work together to overcome obstacles and see ACE in action.

“I’m seeing the 15th Wing excel!” Stanley shared. “They pushed their bodies and minds to such higher levels of stress than usual. To come to an unfamiliar, mostly empty setting, and see how the deployers have transformed it into a Mission Generation Force Element that projects airpower in a matter of days, is nothing short of amazing.”
The exercise was the first time many of the Airmen had the opportunity to participate and train in a deployed environment. Even so, Sutton expressed his gratitude and pride at seeing the team meet challenges and work together to meet essential objectives.

“It’s a great feeling to watch these motivated young Airmen challenge themselves, try new things and succeed. I couldn’t be prouder of them,” Sutton said. “I hope they see the incredible results they are capable of when they work together as a team.”