There was a job to do: train to stay lethal, and it was a group of U.S. Air Force non-commissioned officers who made it happen during Agile Fury 21, a week-long bilateral air-to-ground exercise hosted by the 2nd Air Support Operations Squadron, which ended March 11.
“This idea came together only a few months ago on the shoulders of a handful of staff sergeants who were looking to get closer support in our backyard,” said Lt. Col. Justin Bañez, 2nd ASOS commander. “I’m extremely proud of our Airmen.”
The exercise trained Tactical Air Control Party members on scenarios involving ground operations, close air support and reconnaissance.
“Agile Fury gives us the opportunity to work with existing capabilities here within the command alongside our partner nation of Germany,” Bañez said.
Simulated close air support was provided by German air force Eurofighter Typhoon jets and F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from the 480th and 510th Fighter Squadrons from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and Aviano Air Base, Italy. The 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade from the U.S. Army, and the 10th Panzer Division from the German army provided personnel to integrate with the 2nd ASOS.
Furthermore, the exercise was the first time the 2nd ASOS employed technology such as personal reconnaissance drone system and multi-spectral digital invoice communication capabilities. The 2nd ASOS also debuted a surface-to-air-threat emitter, a device that is able to simulate threats for aircraft to neutralize.
“This allows us to really get after some of the reconnaissance tactics we’re trying to hone,” Bañez said.
Agile Fury was also the largest exercise the 2nd ASOS has ever hosted.
“Considering how small the 2nd ASOS is, this was a pretty significant accomplishment,” Bañez said.
Staff Sgt. Demarcus Harrison, 2nd ASOS strike team non-commissioned officer in charge, said the exercise had been in the planning stages since 2019. The exercise began to crystallize in the fall of 2020 as Harrison, along with Staff Sgt. Gregory Holst, 2nd ASOS TACP weapons officer, and Tech. Sgt. Dennis Back, standards and evaluations programs manager, contacted various fighter squadrons around United States Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa about their plans.
“The idea was originally just going to be us (and) the 510th (FS),” Harrison said. “By the time people got word that we’re trying to conduct a (close air support exercise), that two-man exercise had grown to a 15-party exercise. It just kept swelling and swelling and turned from a day-event to a week-long event with multiple distinguished visitors at that time.”
As for how it feels to finally see his team’s brainchild come together, Harrison had one word: “Amazing.”
“One thing I love about this week is that, even as we’re doing long hours every day, I’m seeing things develop and it makes me happy,” Harrison said. “The final product of a lot of hard work from a lot of strong and independent people is coming together.”
The squadron hopes to make Agile Fury an annual exercise, expanding on the number of partner nations invited as well as including more U.S. Army integration, Bañez said.
“We have an after-action plan after the completion of the exercise where we’ll start charting out what that needs to look like,” Bañez said. “Considering how many partners were excited to participate, we expect that we’ll be able to do this for years to come.”