An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | April 26, 2023

ACE is Focus of Southern Strike 2023 Exercise

By Staff Sgt. Renee Seruntine, 102d Public Affairs Detachment

GULFPORT, Miss. – One of the U.S. Air Force’s newest concepts, Agile Combat Employment, is the focus of the Southern Strike 2023 exercise at the Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center.

Approximately 2,000 U.S. military service members are participating in the joint international combat exercise hosted by the Mississippi National Guard. 

During the two-week exercise ending April 27, a combined force of Air National Guard, Army National Guard, Air Force, Navy, Marine and Coast Guard units train to prepare for air-to-air combat, aerial refueling, aerial and ground transport and close air support. 

The exercise centers on emerging Agile Combat Employment tactics, techniques and procedures, and Multi-Capable Airmen training. 

Army Special Operations forces are among the participants that conduct counterinsurgency, close air support, search and rescue, noncombatant evacuation, and maritime special operations. International partners are involved in air and ground training scenarios.

“Agile Combat Employment is a method of employing our personnel in resources instead of going to one large main operating base,” said Col. Bryce Butler, exercise director. “We disperse our assets and forces throughout many different contingency locations as it confuses adversary planning.”

The key to ACE is to spread out aircraft and supplies across multiple airfields rather than concentrating them in a few central locations to make it more complicated to target all of them.

“We disperse forces in order to complicate potential adversaries’ planning,” Butler said. “We have to have Airmen that not only know the job that they have been trained for but other jobs as well. When you disperse to those smaller bases and you have less personnel there, they have to be able to know many different jobs in order to be able to make the mission happen.”

The annual exercise provides valuable training scenarios to prepare fighters for various threats and enhance their knowledge of the ACE concept.

“Southern Strike provides us the opportunity to go to multiple contingency locations because we have a lot of small airfields around here that will be very illustrative of what we’ll find inside of the South Pacific,” said Brig. Gen. Anthony Stratton, the commander of the 176th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard. “We have the water here as well, so we can get our forces out there working together in a cohesive environment.”

ACE relies on multi-capable Airmen to recover, refuel, reload and perform maintenance to aircraft. This ensures they are ready to rapidly deploy a proactive plan of operation to boost resilience and survival while generating combat power.

“Multi-capable Airmen are doing jobs that are not in their specific specialty code, things like marshaling airplanes, helping to fuel airplanes, providing perimeter security, ingesting data, analyzing it and pushing it back out,” said Stratton. 

“We may have to cover great distances, and so, no matter where we are in the future with our adversaries, whether they be in Eastern Europe, in the Pacific or wherever else, we have to be ready to employ this concept and remain agile so that if we’re detected and targeted, we’re able to redeploy to different locations using the ACE concept,” said Maj. Gen. Barry A. Blanchard, assistant adjutant general - air, Mississippi National Guard.



Related Articles
Air National Guard security forces participate in a mass casualty event at the PATRIOT 24 exercise at Combined Arms Collective Training Facility, Camp Shelby, Mississippi, Feb. 19, 2024. The disaster-response training exercise was conducted by National Guard units working with federal, state and local emergency management agencies and first responders.
National Guard Conducts Patriot Exercise in Mississippi
By Maj. Sabrina Dalton, | Feb. 22, 2024
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. – The National Guard conducted a disaster readiness exercise with state and county emergency management agencies and industry partners Feb. 18-22.PATRIOT is a joint, interagency exercise sponsored by the...

Col. Teri Neely, commander of the 183rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Jackson, Mississippi, receives the status of a simulated patient during Operation Iron Magnolia at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center Auxiliary Airfield, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Sept. 9, 2023.
Mississippi Air Guard Demonstrates Multicapable Airman Concept
By Staff Sgt. Jared Bounds and Airman 1st Class Damara Cormier, | Sept. 22, 2023
JACKSON, Miss. - The 172nd Airlift Wing conducted Operation Iron Magnolia Sept. 9, generating maximum airlift capability sustained by the multicapable Airman concept.Members of the 172nd Maintenance Group, 172nd Logistics...

Aeromedical evacuation technicians from the 183rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron administer aid to a simulated patient during medical airlift evacuation training in Gulfport, Mississippi, July 20, 2023. The 183rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron conducted annual training with the 189th Medical Group, Arkansas ANG, U.S. Coast Guard New Orleans and Gulfport.
Mississippi, Arkansas Guard Airmen Train with Coast Guard
By Airman 1st Class Shardae McAfee and Staff Sgt. Jared Bounds, | Aug. 30, 2023
GULFPORT, Miss. - The 183rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Mississippi Air National Guard, and the 189th Medical Group, Arkansas Air National Guard, trained alongside Coast Guardsmen from Gulfport and New Orleans in July...