15th AF team observes, learns from exercise Ready Tiger

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Daryl Knee
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Observers from 15th Air Force visited Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, Feb. 28 – March 4 in support of exercise Ready Tiger.

The 11-member team was here in an assessment function to help prepare for and gauge the mission essential tasks and certification events for Lead Wings at follow-on exercises planned throughout the year.

“Ready Tiger was a good opportunity to learn from the wing, see where they are and experience how they’ve implemented Lead-Wing capabilities,” said Lt. Col. Patrick O’Keefe, 15th AF assessment team lead. “Our team can then provide feedback from past observations, and we can take best practices to other bases throughout the command.”

Early this year, the commander of Air Combat Command identified which bases within ACC will be certified as Lead Wings as part of the Combat Air Force’s transition to the service’s new force generation model. In this announcement, Gen. Mark Kelly also identified 15th AF as one of the assessment and certifying agents for Lead Wings.

Certifying a Lead Wing will be rigorous and may include unit effectiveness inspections; participation in major exercises like Red Flag, Checkered Flag or Agile Flag; training at weapons systems evaluation programs; and base readiness exercises like Ready Tiger.

“Moody has done an outstanding job,” O’Keefe said. “They’re trying to balance the current deployment rotation while transitioning to the new model of force presentation – and that’s not easy. They’re executing these concepts while having about a third of the people we would expect them to do this with.

“They’re overcoming the manpower problem while still satisfying the Lead-Wing development,” he added regarding the finite amount of resources available to the 23rd and their role in being the first Lead Wing expected to be combat ready by October of this year.

But everything is not perfect, he continued. This exercise has identified some areas that require improvement.

For example, Ready Tiger was the first time a Lead Wing injected chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training into an exercise, creating a challenging environment where participants had to don protective gear without the usual support of a robust base communications system. Degraded communications presented a unique opportunity to truly test how geographically separated units could communicate and rally together to continue generating airpower in simulated austere environments.

“We can’t start at full operational capacity,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth Roberts, 23rd WG A-Staff chief, about the many lessons learned since Moody began implementing Lead-Wing processes. “There’s a time element involved after identifying the initial capabilities and how we refine our folks into the Airmen for the needs of tomorrow.”

The A-Staff planning cell took this into account for Ready Tiger, and created desired learning objectives focused on the command and control of Moody’s Air Base Squadron and the interactions among the ABS, Air Operations Center and Wing Operations Center.

They then took it one step forward and placed the ABS staff in a tent city at Moody’s perimeter, moved the Wing Operations Center to a degraded secondary location and employed a small group of Airmen at a contingency location at Avon Park Air Force Range, Florida. The 15th AF observers could then see how all three locations communicated to ensure successful completion of the AOC’s air tasking orders.

“The 23rd WG A-Staff and the ABS integration has been impressive,” O’Keefe said. “The work here is instrumental to defining the Lead-Wing structure and will help us develop future certifying criteria.”

The next exercise testing Moody’s Lead-Wing capabilities will be Agile Flag 2022 later this summer.