Overcoming distance: 552nd units tackle Exercise AGILE THUNDER 1,300 miles apart

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Ashlyn K. Paulson

EXERCISE Agile Thunder 20-03 at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, concluded Aug. 14 after more than two weeks of focused training for over 500 active duty Airmen in the 552nd Air Control Wing and multiple personnel in both the 72nd Air Base Wing and the 366th Fighter Wing at Mt. Home AFB, Idaho.

The 552nd Air Control Wing is a unique wing that trains, employs, and provides combat ready air and ground crews specializing in tactical command and control.  This exercise evaluated wing personnel in the 965th Airborne Air Control Squadron on their ability to prepare and rapidly deploy combat forces, generate and deliver Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, generate and deploy a Control and Reporting Center and conduct combat operations in a contested environment. 

This wing has three geographically separated units that provide ground based C2 and training for Airmen around the world.  For Exercise AGILE THUNDER, the 726th Air Control Squadron at Mt. Home AFB, Idaho was tasked to deploy its weapons system simultaneous to the AWACS deployments from Tinker AFB, Oklahoma. 

Phase I occurred Aug. 4-7 and tested personnel and cargo deployment functions; Phase II took place Aug. 10-14 and tested operational sustainability in a contested and chemical environment

Throughout the exercise personnel were constantly challenged by the heat, simulated attacks, and pressure to perform mission tasks in simulated chemical and biological contaminated environments. 

Both Tinker and Mt Home units worked diligently to meet combatant commander timelines for the production of combat C2 capabilities, flying seven sorties supporting Exercise RAZOR TALON, and controlling over 85 aircraft in both the virtual and live environments.

“The exercise was crucial in more ways than one,” said Capt. Jason Stewart, 552nd ACW Director of Exercise and Readiness. “Airmen were able to learn and execute rarely trained to combat tasks, and the wing was able to identify mission needs for future combat operations.”

This full-scale readiness exercise marks the renewal of high end deployment and readiness training in the 552nd ACW.  It also demonstrated the unique balance of synchronizing real-world activities with host installation support priorities, ultimately meeting combatant commander timelines for deployment.   

Exercising these High Demand, Low Density weapons systems and strengthening essential partnerships with host installations, is critical to meeting the vision of the wing to “Train Hard, Rapidly Deploy Forward, and Win”

The 552nd ACW plans to execute Exercise AGILE THUNDER at least three times annually ensuring mission readiness and the ability to answer the nation’s call at a moment’s notice.