SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Members of the 114th Fighter Wing executed a two-week readiness exercise that tested their ability to stand up an aerospace control alert sight, test agile combat employment skills on short notice and facilitate multi-capable Airmen training Aug. 3-13.
"We're looking for a way to build better Airmen each and every day," said Col. Mark Morrell, 114th Fighter Wing commander. "So the two-week readiness exercise helps us focus on dynamic environments and problem-solving for our Airmen at the very lowest level and also helps to build their foundational skills in basic weapons, basic emergency medicine survivability, as well as a broader category of possessing the ability to survive and operate in all environments."
In the first part of the exercise, the 114FW stood up ACA sites that operated 24/7 at Joe Foss Field and surrounding areas to evaluate their ability to defend the midsection of North America on short notice and to test ACE skills with realistic combat scenarios. The ACE concept is to deploy with minimal equipment and Airmen to accomplish the mission.
"By the end of this exercise, we will have a strong mental picture of what it looks like to stand up an alert site here in Sioux Falls, which certainly increases our readiness to defend our homeland," said Lt. Col. Karl Palmberg, 114th Operations Group deputy commander. "It's been very beneficial to get the training in for the primary mission as well as bolster our capabilities here at home."
In the second part of the exercise, the 114th FW challenged Airmen to step outside their comfort zones and train on tasks outside their regular jobs, such as hand-to-hand combat, aircraft recovery and maintenance familiarization and tactical combat casualty care. Combat readiness instructors from Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, taught many of these classes.
"I think that the nature of warfare in the future is likely to be very unpredictable," said Morrell. "It's likely to be in austere locations, and it's likely to require Airmen to make their own risk management decisions in order to accomplish the mission. This MCA training gives our Airmen an increased warrior ethos so they can feel confident they can handle themselves mentally and physically, as well as professionally in any sort of environment, peacetime or in combat."
There is a push in the Air Force to transition Airmen from being focused solely on their primary jobs to building multifunctional mission-essential skills, so Airmen can jump into the fight no matter where it is.
"We are committed to building the most ready and resilient force that we can," said Morrell, "and part of that is building people who can deal with unpredictable and dynamic environments and problem-solve quickly and confidently."