The lead wing and experiment objectives are in place for a deployment like no other, taking place in the panhandle of Florida. Air Combat Command’s AGILE FLAG 21-2 experiment will test the 4th Fighter Wing’s (Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina) ability to deploy into theater as a lead Air Expeditionary Wing April 26 – May 7, 2021.
The unit will employ mission generation, command and control, and base operating support-integrator elements from its main operating base at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, while supporting two contingency locations and a forward operating base.
“A modern, peer-war fight requires a warrior culture, credibility, capacity and high-end capability,” said Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of ACC. “The units that ACC sends forward have to seamlessly plug-in to their combat-engaged formations and structures.”
According to Kelly, aligning with directives from the Air Force chief of staff, there’s no time for the team forward deploying to acclimate to one another and there’s no time for a combat-engaged Combined Forces Air Component Commanders to provide on-the-job training.
“Successful operations and combat support in a contested environment demand maximum delegation, trust, and empowerment of Airmen before conflict starts,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr. “We must empower Airmen at all levels, delegating to the lowest capable and competent level possible, mindful that with empowerment and trust comes accountability.”
As part of Agile Flag, Seymour-Johnson will deploy F-15E Strike Eagles, from the 336th Fighter Squadron, while the 1 FW at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, will deploy F-22 Raptors from the 27 FS.
Additionally, the 5th Combat Communications Group from Robins AFB, Georgia, will establish a significant portion of the communications infrastructure at all locations of operations.
Bringing in other major commands, Air Mobility Command’s 19th Airlift Wing (Little Rock AFB, Arkansas) will support airlift with C-130Js, while the Air Force Special Operations Command’s, 15th Special Operations Squadron (Hurlburt) will establish Forward Area Refueling Points with a MC-130H.
These units will come together to demonstrate and exercise how the 4FW organization can project combat airpower, while remaining agile and dynamic, utilizing the assets that are available.
“We are hoping to show the progress in working toward the new USAF force presentation model,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Frasch, ACC Operations Dynamic Force Employment chief. “Bridging the 4 FW’s first agile combat employment ‘tasking’ from RAPID FORGE in August 2019 to now.”
Finally, while operations are underway, Fifteenth Air Force headquarters and the United States Air Force Warfare Center will observe the experiment to help develop and identify standards and qualifications that are necessary to certify a lead wing in the future