MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Airmen from the 6th Air Refueling Wing traveled to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Dec. 15-18, 2020, to conduct integrated training with Air Force Global Strike Command’s B-52 Stratofortress bombers assigned to the 2nd Bomb Wing.
For both the 6th ARW and the 2nd BW, this integrated training is an effective way to ensure that each wing remains ready to deter near-peer adversaries in accordance with the “Accelerate Change or Lose” directive recently published by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr.
“By sending our crews to a location outside of Air Mobility Command and essentially disconnecting from our usual standard operating procedures, our crews are able to refine the skills we learned during pilot training, and get back to the basics of planning and executing the mission,” said Maj. Michael Bargiel, 6th Operation Group chief of operations and inspections. “These procedures become important in the instance our crews have to divert to a location that doesn’t have KC-135 support, albeit due to weather, malfunction or other causes.”
Along with exercising alternative KC-135 Stratotanker tactics, techniques and procedures, Bargiel explained that the integration with Barksdale enabled the 6th OG’s Airmen to assure their capabilities of delivering global air refueling and airlift support.
“Without the midair refueling we provide to other airborne assets, our country’s ability to project a rapid global presence would not be possible, said Bargiel. “Our mission is making sure that our fighter and bomber aircraft have the fuel to reach their targets, to keep reconnaissance assets airborne and keeping watch over the battlespace, and to provide the airlift and fuel to get people and supplies when and where they need to be.”
According to Capt. Ethan Simantel, 96th Bomb Squadron, weapons and tactics chief, the integration with the 6th ARW was a “think big” training opportunity for the 2nd BW.
“This training allowed us to think outside the container and afforded us the opportunity to launch multiple B-52s to show allies and adversaries our combat capability and MacDill’s tanker support was essential in our plan,” said Simantel.
During the course of training, the 6th ARW launched eight KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, supporting 18 B-52 Stratofortress bomber sorties, off-loading more than 260,000 lbs. of fuel.
“The capabilities of the B-52 are vast and we are always pushing the platform and the aircrew to be more lethal,” added Simantel. “Integrating on these training missions allows us the opportunity to practice agile combat employment and support concepts, and work through any contingencies.”
Over the last three weeks, Team MacDill has conducted integrated training operations at Shaw AFB and Barksdale AFB. Bargiel explained that conducting these operational trainings in such quick succession is not only helpful for MacDill’s aircrews to improve their capabilities, but also in building relationships between wings with different missions.
“By working together now, we are building and fostering a relationship of trust and familiarity so that if we do have to go to war, we know that we can depend on each other to get the mission done safely and efficiently,” said Bargiel. “The more opportunities we have to travel to the bases that we support, the more we can minimize frustrations, and the better we will be able to operate with each other in the battlespace.”