LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- More than 170 Airmen and four C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 19th Airlift Wing recently returned home after participating in Air Mobility Command’s largest and longest running training event, Mobility Guardian 2021, at Alpena Combat Training Readiness Center, Michigan, May 15-27.
Conducted biennially, Mobility Guardian is the Air Force’s only formal, Total Force, service-level mechanism for assessing and validating capabilities in Rapid Global Mobility missions specified and implied within the 2018 National Defense Strategy.
The 19th AW served as the largest participant in the mobility-focused exercise, in terms of number of personnel and aircraft. They joined more than 1,800 mobility, combat, and reserve forces, as well as forces from the U.S. Army to accelerate change in how AMC trains and develops Airmen to operate for tomorrow’s high-end fight.
“AMC must simultaneously prepare for tomorrow’s fight while maintaining success in today’s operations,” said Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, AMC commander. “AMC’s priorities are aligned with those of the Air Force, U.S. Transportation Command and the Joint Force, ensuring AMC is agile, aligned and capable of executing national objectives across each of AMC’s missions.”
Building upon lessons learned from the Mobility Air Forces Weapons and Tactics Conference and previous iterations of the exercise, MG21 focused on experimenting with emerging concepts and technology and developing Airmen by exposing them to complex challenges based on relevant real-world security challenges and future conflicts.
“A lot of this was Airmen-led,” said Lt. Col. Nathan Powell, 19th Operations Group deputy commander. “This exercise construct presented problems where Airmen could use their experience and innovation to solve problems.”
Integration of cutting-edge concepts to advance warfighting capabilities was at the heart of MG21.
This included Multi-Capable Mobility Airmen demonstrating speed and agility while enabling refueling and re-arming of fighter aircraft in an austere location. Additionally, aircrew and mission planners used specialized computers and communications aboard aircraft to rapidly share data, promoting increased awareness of simulated threats and allowing for faster decision making.
Powell said that while most of the Airmen involved in the exercise haven’t worked under the Agile Combat Employment construct, the 19th AW was well postured to bring lessons learned to its MAF partners.
“It wasn’t so much experimental learning for 19th Airlift Wing members,” he said. “Our experience from locally generated exercises, such as ROCKI 21-02, helped accelerate the learning process for the MAF.”
Over the course of the two-week exercise, the 19th AW contributed to a handful of AMC firsts, including the use of a fueled Aerial Bulk Fuel Delivery System and inflight transportation of MHU-141 munitions trailers to rearm and refuel A-10s quickly, known as an integrated combat turn.
“Herk Nation and the Herk culture is adept to these kinds of operations,” Powell said. “For the C-130 community, this wasn’t a significant deviation from how we do business—but integrating in this fashion, across all of the mobility enterprise, to mission plan and project combat power lays the foundation to further develop warfighting concepts for AMC specifically.”
Powell added that exercises like MG21 are critical to sharpening Mobility Airmen’s readiness to project the Joint Force and ensure strategic deterrence in any environment across the entire competition continuum.
“The MAF feeds the fight,” he said. “The logistics and port opening capabilities that AMC provides enables maneuver warfare. The MAF will be critical to enabling any future fight against a near-peer or peer competitor.
For more information on Exercise Mobility Guardian 2021, visit https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/MG21.