Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Trevor Rhynes
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs April 23, 2021
Ramstein Airmen participated in an Agile Combat Employment exercise designed to test the wing’s ability to move cargo and personnel across Europe, April 19 and 20.
ACE as a concept was developed by U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa as a way for units to operate from locations with varying levels of capacity and support.
As part of this ACE event, four C-130J Super Hercules aircraft were launched from Ramstein to provide airlift support for the 48th Fighter Wing from RAF Lakenheath, England and the 52nd Fighter Wing from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany while also conducting training for members of the 37th Airlift Squadron.
“The 86th AW was very interested in gathering data on what it would take for our C-130s to disperse from Ramstein and set up an outbase while simultaneously supporting a Fighter Wing ACE movement,” said Maj. Bradley Breedlove, 86th Airlift Wing ACE lead.
This exercise also served as an initial test of the wing’s ACE capabilities. Previously, the 37th AS and 86th Communications Squadron practiced transporting and setting up a communications network at Chièvres Air Base, Belgium.
“This time we brought enough equipment with us to stay the night and operate from Chièvres Air Base, which is the crawl-to-walk phase of our ACE training,” Breedlove said. “As a bonus, we had the unique opportunity to exercise our ACE skills while at the same time integrating with the 48th and 52d Fighter Wing ACE programs.
“Being that the 86th AW is the only airlift asset in USAFE, we needed to collect data on what it takes to support ACE movements for wings in the region,” Breedlove continued. “These muscle movements we’re practicing during our ACE events are vital skills that have to be mastered to ensure successful operations in this theater.”
One important capability is to rapidly transport cargo over land to meet aircraft at an operating location so that cargo can be loaded up for movement or airdrop to another location.
“In a typical situation, the pallets would leave with the aircraft, but if there was a situation where other equipment needed to get prioritized for transport, practicing the scenario as we did gives us the ability to meet the aircraft at another location if needed,” said Staff Sgt. John Bruno Ruiz Camacho, 86th Operations Support Squadron joint airdrop inspector. “It helps with flexibility and reduces the amount of back and forth the aircrew have to go through. They could do another mission somewhere else while we’re on the way with other supplies.”
The ACE concept is still new to many units, as more Airmen get involved the more agile the 86th AW becomes.