By Tech. Sgt. Dhruv Gopinath and Tech. Sgt. Rachel Maxwell
SOUDA AIR BASE, Greece —
U.S. F-15E Strike Eagles assigned to the 494th Fighter Squadron, stationed out of Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, conducted an Agile Combat Employment movement to Souda AB Greece, within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, July 15, 2022.
“We wanted to operationalize the concept of agile forces conducting operations in multiple combatant commands from a single geographic location,” said Lt. Col. Curtis Culver, 494 FS commander. “We demonstrated that we can rapidly move aircraft between combatant commands, and be ready for contingency operations in either.”
In order to validate the concept, the 494 FS flew two of its Strike Eagles from Souda Air Base, Greece to the CENTCOM AOR, which landed, refueled and then returned the same day.
“It was a really cool experience overall,” said Capt. Sean Blye, the mission’s flight lead. “It was great to see all the different teams come together to make it seamless and show just how easy it is to send out airpower across multiple combatant commands in a single day.”
The 494 FS is currently operating out of Greece, as part of a Large Force Exercise, Poseidon’s Rage 22, July 11-22, an annual multinational training event designed to bolster readiness and interoperability between the United States and Hellenic Air Forces.
“The island of Crete is a strategic location geographically,” said Culver. “We can quickly move into Europe, move into CENTCOM, come back, and train at a very high level with our NATO allies. We have a strong relationship with Greece, and are bolstering those ties during this exercise.”
As forces continue to transition towards near-peer competition, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown, highlighted the importance of redesigning capabilities and concepts to face modern challenges.
“After decades of near-continuous combat operations, we must align Air Force processes and force presentation to better support readiness, the generation of combat power, and warfighting,” said Brown. “We must also develop ways to enable our Airmen to rest, recover, and train for the future. Garrison structures and processes must align to these new models.”
Culver believes that by combining these new readiness concepts with a strong network of allies, the Air Force can globally integrate forces from multiple combatant commands, to support the interests of the U.S. and NATO.
“We can stay in Europe to train with our NATO allies, and not deplete readiness in doing so,” said Culver. “If we execute this new vision, we will be ready to fly against a high-end adversary at any given time, and at a more frequent pace.
RAF Lakenheath 48th Fighter Wing Souda Air Base Agile Combat Employment 494th Fighter Squadron