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‘One step ahead’: Gen Minihan drives AMC towards Pacific, accelerates Mobility Guardian 23 planning

  • Published
  • By Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

At his most recent commander’s call, Gen. Mike Minihan, commander of Air Mobility Command, hosted a Rehearsal of Concept drill with the AMC headquarters staff gathered around a massive map of the Pacific theater sprawled across the floor of a hangar April 5, 2022.  

“We’re tapping into the legacy of military leaders before us and taking a page from their playbook in how we come together to think and talk about the problems we’re facing,” said Minihan. “I need my team here with me, gathered around, so we can walk through and understand this together.” 

“We don’t have to be perfect,” Minihan added. “We’ve just got to be one step ahead.”  

A “ROC” drill, a technique that originated in the United States Army, allows a unit to meticulously walk through complex operations to identify potential obstacles or issues for mitigation prior to execution. Before the days of digital presentations, military tacticians around the world used everything from maps and models to rock and dirt sketches on the ground to organize troops and prepare operations. 

The commander’s call was hosted one week after Minihan released the updated AMC strategy. The commander previously hosted a ROC drill at Phoenix Rally, an AMC total force leadership summit, where the team identified areas for improvement in “fight tonight” scenarios including refinements to policy and guidance, education and training, tactics, and material solutions.  

The ROC drill was presented at the commander’s call by the newly established AMC “Fight Club,” a cross-functional team appointed by Gen. Minihan to conduct critical analysis of the pacing threat, close potential gaps, and posture mobility air forces to win under any conditions.  

“We conduct ROC drills to better understand, visualize, describe, and direct the operational-level problem set our mobility forces will likely encounter across the competition continuum,” said Lt. Col. Brian “Cabby” Thomasson, Deputy Division Chief of AMC’s Joint Exercise Division.  

Using iterative joint planning processes, the team consists of subject matter experts from across AMC, the 618th Air Operations Center, 18th Air Force, the USAF Expeditionary Center, and key partners and stakeholders from across the Indo-Pacific Command and other major commands. 

“Each participant had their own piece of the AMC mission to accomplish, and this drill gave each agency a descriptive representation because you could walk the model and tell the story of the tactical operator at the proper time and place,” Thomasson said.   

AMC Airmen leveraged a large map produced by the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and 3D printed models of threat systems and Mobility Air Forces aircraft printed by AMC’s Innovation Lab on Scott Air Force Base.  

Equipped with these resources, Airmen from across every mobility mission area delved into plans, operating guidance, tactics, techniques and procedures.   

“This is the first time we’ve executed a ROC drill of this size and scope,” said Capt. Derrick “Sensei” Do, an AMC planner. “This conceptual planning synthesized strategic guidance with adversary capability and intent using specific time slices from an operation plan execution.”  

“In turn, the Airmen participating facilitated a dialogue with the commander while exposing known deficiencies to the entire staff, ultimately proposing viable and initial approaches to narrow gaps,” Do added.  

Laying the groundwork for Mobility Guardian 2023 

The ROC drill also kicked off the first of several deliberate planning events for Mobility Guardian 2023, AMC’s flagship and milestone training event. 

“This is just the beginning of our relentless drive toward innovative approaches to demonstrate combat readiness and lethality within the [INDOPACOM] theater,” said Lt Col Curt “Cinco” Haase, Deputy Division Chief of AMC Future and Sensitive Operations Division. 

Mobility Guardian is AMC’s largest full-spectrum readiness exercise which includes scenarios designed to emulate the highly contested, degraded, and operationally-limited environments mobility forces face now and in preparation for in the future.   

A series of future planning events will prepare AMC for this service-level field training exercise within INDOPACOM alongside joint, coalition, and commercial partners.  

The next Mobility Guardian is set to take place in the summer of 2023. 

“Our efforts are focused on identifying areas where we can unleash and empower our incredible Airmen to advance our warfighting capabilities, and Mobility Guardian is a great way to showcase these capabilities,” Haase said.