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Joint Base Charleston C-17 ACEs Integration with B-52s in Guam

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. James Cason
  • Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

A C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Charleston, S.C., participated in a bomber task force mission in the Indo-Pacific alongside two B-52H Stratofortresses from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Dec. 20, 2022.

While the U.S. Air Force executes bomber task force missions regularly, integrating the C-17’s unique capabilities was a first.

The mission aimed to rehearse the agile combat employment tactics and procedures between mobility and global strike assets in the DoD’s largest area of responsibility.

The 15th Airlift Squadron director of operations and C-17 mission commander for this exercise, Lt. Col. Brad Fisher, stressed the importance of integrating ACE concepts across platforms.

“This mission really showed that in any future conflict in the Pacific, the C-17 is going to be crucial to securing victory and achieving U.S. military objectives,” Fisher said. “I got to witness this crew take 585,000 pounds of metal and fuel, and turn it into a lethal and force-multiplying combat asset.”

Although the aircraft flew together out of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, on Dec. 20, 2022, the agile combat employment integration began four days prior when the 437th Airlift Wing C-17 took off from Charleston.

Flying directly to Barksdale AFB, the C-17 crew uploaded the B-52 maintenance equipment and 2nd Maintenance Squadron personnel needed to keep the B-52s ready to fly after their arrival in Guam.

“We were able to utilize the methods of agile combat employment to great effect as we left Charleston,” Fisher said. “We overcame numerous obstacles as we rapidly headed towards the Pacific, overcoming logistical and equipment challenges.

“What made all the difference, though, was the mindset of our crew,” he said. “We knew how important we were to ensuring the B-52s would be able to take off from Guam, and we didn’t let anything stop us from accomplishing our mission.”

Fisher said the C-17 proved itself as a flexible, multi-capable platform throughout the exercise.

“As the B-52s took off, we rapidly uploaded the B-52 maintainers, ensuring flexibility of maneuver in case the B-52s needed to land somewhere other than Guam to get maintenance,” he said. “We then took off and joined them in formation, where we were able to use our expanded communication equipment to relay information to the B-52 crews...”

As C-17s continue to demonstrate their potential to perform in remote and austere environments, the maintenance personnel who fly with the C-17 and keep it maintained on the road have found there is an increased appreciation for their already-cultivated array of skills.

Senior Airman Colin Bagley, 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, said he’s learned to perform the functions of at least five different Air Force specialty codes, or AFSCs, in order to keep a C-17 flying smoothly without access to the usual home station resources.

“For this mission specifically, I’ve enjoyed being able to learn how B-52 maintainers do their jobs and share how we do ours,” Bagley said. “It’s really gratifying that our skills allow us to enable C-17s to fulfill such a powerful ACE role.”