Always Ready: Barksdale Airmen execute ACE capabilities

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Delia Martinez
  • 2nd Bomb Wing

Barksdale Airmen tested their agility and adaptability as they applied Agile Combat Employment concepts during a readiness exercise June 23-24 at the Chennault International Airport in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

“The whole reason we came down to Chennault is to flex the bomber agile employment concept,” said Lt Col. Amanda Goncalves, the 2nd Operational Support Squadron director of operations and the ground commander for the exercise.

The bomber ACE concept increases expeditionary capabilities and operational environments by dispursing aircraft while tailoring teams, logistics and equipment specific to bomber mission requirements.

While this the second time Barksdale practiced the concept, it was the first time for many of the Airmen that traveled to execute the bomber mission on a simulated forward-deployment.

“This is my first ACE experience on the operational side,” said Goncalves. “Previously, I worked at headquarters on the development of the concept, specifically around joint all domain command and control but this is my first time seeing it in practice and it’s been going really well.”

Goncalves’ role as the ground commander was to liaise with aircrews, maintenance, munitions, logistics and the local airfield. As she coordinated with each work site she got to witness Airmen accomplish the mission in unfamiliar territory.

“The skill set that we are asking these crews to develop is the ability to come to an unfamiliar or austere location, land the jet, turn it and get it airborne so that it can get back in the fight,” said Goncalves.

One of the goals of the exercise was to get the B-52 armed and back in the air within a three-hour window.

Airmen from the 2nd Munitions Squadron and the 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron joined forces to get the B-52 back in the fight within the prescribed time frame.

The bomber ACE concept is still new to Striker Airmen but the mobile team understood that putting the concept into practice meant performing multiple duties and, in some cases, learning new job skills outside of their traditional skillset.

Prior to the exercise the 20th AMX crew chiefs received training on building munitions to help ammunition troops build munition packages during the exercise.

“We actually normally don’t do that,” said Staff Sgt. Dominic Scanlan, a 20th AMX weapons load crew chief. “It’s ammos job to build the packages but since they only sent two ammo troops they knew they would need help out here so they trained us to build munitions.”

Scanlan said he is proud of his weapons troops for successfully performing their jobs safely and efficiently despite having limited equipment and people.

“My troops did awesome, they do awesome every day, even back at home station and I’m glad they had the opportunity to prove that they’re the best at what they do,” said Scanlan.

These Airmen and the rest of the ACE exercise mobile team proved that Barksdale has the agility, flexibility and capability to rapidly reroute forces and equipment.

This was Barksdale’s second application of bomber ACE concepts this year. The first ACE exercise had a different scenario and was executed under different circumstances in the winter on a rural airfield in Arkansas.

“What we’re trying to do with ACE is to complicate our enemies' targeting and decision-making processes,” said Goncalves. “We do that by dispersing our aircraft to a variety of locations around the globe so it’s harder to have a single point of attack.”

The ACE concept was designed with the expectation that it would continue to develop and evolve throughout the implementation of agile combat concepts.

“Each exercise builds on the previous objective of the last one,” said Goncalves. “We are always looking for new ways to do our jobs better and be more lethal.”

Each ACE exercise provides striker Airmen opportunities to practice new approaches, refine existing techniques and apply these strategies to B-52 combat missions and future bomber task force operations.