726th ACS exercise enhances readiness, rapid global mobility, builds leaders

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Andrew Kobialka
  • 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

On the outskirts of base, a dirt road strays away from the comforts of civilization and deeper into the high desert. Luckily, the Air Force doesn’t need comfort or civilization to operate.

The 726th Air Control Squadron refined their adaptive basing capabilities during Hardrock Exercise 19-2, July 9-19, 2019, at the Mobile Operating Air Base (MOAB) within Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.

The mission of the exercise was to train Airmen and build exceptional leaders in an unforgiving environment. This type of training develops skill sets necessary to enhance the readiness for the rapid global mobility of the 726th ACS.

“This exercise was a bare-base operation,” explained Lt. Col. Richard Barber, 726th ACS commander. “This means that we were issued simulated deployment orders to set up a fully-operational MOAB from the ground up in less than 72 hours.”

Getting to that point took a lot of preparation.

The first step began with precisely packing up trucks with all equipment needed to set up base.

“We only have a short amount of time to become operational,” Barber said. “The Airmen proved that they can pack up quickly and accurately so that the mission can be accomplished anytime and anywhere.”

The 726th ACS then coordinated a two-hour convoy where they gained experience on how to handle situations like downed communications and secure routing, while still ensuring timely arrival of equipment and personnel.

Once on site, the build-up phase began.

Assembling a tactical operations center (TOC), TPS-75 radar system, satellite communications, entry control points, running ground wire and constructing tents are a few key components of making a viable base.

Once fully operational, the 726th ACS put a strong emphasis on being self-sufficient.

“We have Airmen conduct their own security as well as chemical warfare and Ability to Survive and Operate (ATSO) training,” Barber said. “The 726th ACS Airmen are ready to handle any situation thrown at us.”

Conducting this secondary training while simultaneously monitoring and controlling the airspace further increases their total flexibility for when they may need it most, Barber said.

“Throughout the exercise, we have given leadership roles to some newer officers and non-commissioned officers to allow them to grow into the strong leaders we need for the future,” he said.

Tech. Sgt. Joshua Kelly, 726th ACS civilian engineering section chief, is one of those strengthening his leadership skills.

“There have been many lessons learned, but the exercise has gone smoothly,” Kelly said. “I’m proud of our Airmen who are proving to be resilient, flexible and teachable.”

Barber explained how Airmen are making this exercise the most significant one yet.

“Overall the exercise has been a huge win,” Barber said. “So much so that we took full command of the Gunfighter Flag 19-2 Exercise airspace for the first time since being stationed at MHAFB.”

“The 726th ACS has enhanced their ability to rapidly deploy to any remote location and take command and control of the region,” he said. “We are ready to bring the sharpened spear and hurl it into combat, bringing order to chaos.”