CAMP WILLIAMS, Utah - The Utah Air and Army National Guard conducted a joint exercise at military installations around Utah Feb. 3, demonstrating innovative military strategies and readiness.
The exercise focused on training Airmen and joint forces across Utah, including six Army and Air Force units, to plan and execute missions in unpredictable scenarios and contested environments.
As global threats evolve, the United States prioritizes operations from austere locations. In keeping with the Agile Combat Employment doctrine, Exercise Perses challenged Utah Army and Air Guard and 419th Fighter Wing participants to employ airpower in a simulated conflict scenario with a peer adversary.
“As we engage in great power competition, it is crucial that we innovate and optimize our force. We must adapt and change how we train and fight. Conflict against China will be very different from any battle we’ve ever had,” said Maj. Gen. Dan Boyack, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard. “We must aggressively push new and sometimes uncomfortable tactics to win. This exercise lets the warfighters push their limits to create and perfect capabilities they need to deter and defeat our adversaries.”
One of the highlights of the exercise was the joint training of Air Force and Army units at multiple locations to increase the lethality of the combined forces.
The exercise also showcased the enduring significance of the KC-135R Stratotanker fleet in projecting U.S. power and mobility.
“Our objective extends beyond traditional roles,” said Lt. Col. Jeffery Gould, commander of the 151st Operations Group. “The cargo compartment of the KC-135 is one of the most underutilized spaces in combat operations. Members of the 151 OG validated how KC-135s could carry and offload munitions during combat operations.”
Gould said carrying fuel and weapons enables fighter aircraft “to get back in the fight quickly.”
During the exercise, F-35s from Hill Air Force Base landed with maximum fuel, quickly rearmed with assistance from the KC-135, and promptly returned to the fray, getting gas from the same tanker that offloaded weapons.
“Our KC-135 fleet is the backbone of U.S. power projection, strategic deterrence, and global mobility and will be so for the foreseeable future,” said Col. Douglas Foster, commander of 151st Wing. “As we adapt to a dynamic strategic environment, the Air Force is shaping the future force to support resilient forward basing and readiness to transition to a wartime posture. The Utah National Guard’s efforts are to help test, demonstrate, and inform some of these concepts, ensuring our capabilities align with the demands of a rapidly changing environment.”
Foster said Exercise Perses showcased the Utah National Guard’s commitment to constant evolution.