ALPENA COMBAT READINESS TRAINING CENTER, Mich. – Devil Raiders tested their Air Base Opening and Agile Combat Employment capabilities May 15-27, 2021, alongside other combat and mobility air forces as well as joint and total force partners throughout Air Mobility Command’s biennial Mobility Guardian exercise.
During Mobility Guardian 2021, participants focused on all-domain operations in Contested, Degraded, and Operationally-Limited environments against a simulated high-end adversary. The scenario drove a response to adversary aggressions threatening the security and sovereignty of the exercise area of responsibility.
Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing played an integral role in securing the simulated CDO at Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport, which is one of three locations CR forces operated from during MG21. The Airmen established a Contingency Response Element comprised of Airmen in different specialties including aerial porters, loadmasters, airfield management, vehicle mechanics, aerospace ground equipment technicians, security forces liaisons, an independent duty medical technician and various others.
A CRE is responsible for receiving, managing and generating U.S. forces in a contingency environment.
“Our role here at MG21 in regard to the CRE at Oscoda is to serve as the central means for Mobility Airmen to receive the resources and advocacy required to carry out their mission,” said Capt. Sean Bryant, 821st Contingency Response Squadron base operating support integrator and CRE commander. “My role specifically is to integrate the mission generation squadron with contingency response and to provide solutions to problems before leadership knows they exist.”
One of the new ways Devil Raiders were able to support the CRE at Oscoda was through the uploading and downloading of KC-135 Stratotankers, KC-10 Extenders and KC-46A Pegasus.
“Contingency response revolves around our ability as Airmen with cross-functional training to provide multiple levels of support and fill in where necessary to accomplish the mission,” said Staff Sgt. Tyler Greene, 821st Contingency Response Squadron air transportation specialist. “While we’re air transportation specialists, when not uploading or downloading litters, we can also set up tents and operate heavy machinery not exclusive to our career field.”
The CRE tents and equipment were supported by new specialized lightweight fabric solar panels. The standard power grid can be augmented by placing the solar panels on top of tents or on standalone structures within a secured location.
“Even on cloudy days these panels generate 2-3 kilowatts, enough to run a generator on a battery for most of the night,” said Staff Sgt. Johnathan Cullar, 621st Contingency Response Support Squadron aerospace ground equipment supervisor. “This is a practical, eco-friendly and easily transported way to power our grid and save on fuel costs.”
Devil Raiders not only provided support at Oscoda, contingency response squadrons were also present at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin, and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Michigan.
“A contingency response team, which we’ve established here at Volk, allows Mobility Airmen to dig in and secure strategic ground and air space at forward positions from the CRE,” said Tech. Sgt. Brian Commodore, 621st CRS CRT chief. “These are enlisted-led, smaller scale groups of cross-functional Airmen, our purpose here is to facilitate the transportation of goods and assets for the U.S. and our allies.”
The ability to communicate and navigate the simulated battlespace of MG21 was made possible by tactical data link technology.
“The cornerstone of this exercise is simulating our ability to secure strategic dominance over near-to-peer adversaries,” said Commodore. “The tactical data link system allows us to coordinate with allies and among ourselves with a secure means of communication.”
Through the tactical data link system, the CRT was able to effectively secure a simulated contested environment in real time; and expedite the transportation of assets across the battlespace hundreds of times faster than allowed by traditional means.
A key factor in the success of Agile Combat Employment is the CR’s ability to rapidly upload and download cargo, such as munitions and support equipment, needed to facilitate quick turns of fighter forces.
Devil Raiders formed a Contingency Location Team at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, the primary operating location for the exercise. The CLT provided airfield security for the Agile Combat Employment training event, enabling a group of A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft to conduct an Integrated Combat Turn to rearm and refuel quickly before returning to the skies.
“Turning aircraft quickly gives us a competitive edge on our near-peer adversaries,” said Tech. Sgt. Lance Oakes, 621st CRS fire team lead. “With a CLT, it’s much easier to establish an ICT and secure it, because we can quickly pull those with proper cross-functional training from our own ranks.”
While MG21 is a biennial training exercise, Devil Raiders remain ever vigilant, versatile, and evolving to accelerate the change needed to secure the U.S. military’s strategic dominance for tomorrow.