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127th Wing utilizes Lead-Wing Concepts to project military power anytime, anywhere

  • Published
  • By Bruce Huffman
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs

During exercise “Northern Agility 22-1” in Northern Michigan June 27-29, 127th Wing A-Staff planners developed numerous military responses to an imaginary attack, on an imaginary island, countering with not-so-imaginary weaponry, tactics and innovative technologies developed to support long range combat missions.   

Building on last year’s highway landing in Michigan, NA 22-1 showcased the Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment (ACE) doctrine, specifically the ability to conduct Integrated Combat Turns (ICT).  This proof of concept demonstrates the Air Force’s ability to refuel and arm running aircraft in an austere location, reducing ground time and launching planes back into the fight quickly. ICTs also help conceal air assets during conflict, and provide military leaders with additional capabilities to project air power where needed.

During the exercise, the Michigan Air National Guard’s (ANG) 127th Wing at Selfridge ANG Base; 1st Special Operations Group, Hurlburt Field, Florida and 6th Special Operations Squadron, Duke Field, Florida; the Air Force Reserve’s 919th Special Operations Wing, Duke Field; the Oklahoma ANG’s 137th Special Operations Wing, Will Rogers ANG Base; and the Maryland ANG’s 175th Fighter Wing, Warfield ANG Base, worked together to land eight A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, one C-145A aircraft, one C-146 aircraft, one MC-12W aircraft, and one U-28A aircraft on Highway M-28 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, east of the city of Munising. 

“A lot of extraordinary things happened during this exercise, including the use of Lead-Wing Concepts during planning and execution phases,” said Col. Matthew (Fumble) Robins, commander, 127th Wing Operations Group. 

“Organizing a Wing Air Staff to execute mission command with our assigned and adjacent mission partners allowed us to efficiently adjust daily operations. It also allowed us to effectively practice centralized command (at a notional Joint Task Force) with distributed control (at the Wing) and decentralized execution (by Airmen in work centers, forward operating sites, and airborne). Coupled with reduced footprints enabled by cross-trained Airmen and innovative integration of capabilities like ADM-160s and integrated combat turns, the Air Force has a real game changer for combatant commanders.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., published a white paper in 2020 titled, “Accelerate Change or Lose.” In the document, Brown states that to defeat tomorrow’s adversaries, Airmen need to think outside the box, and leaders need to embrace change and create an atmosphere that inspires new ideas and innovation.

During NA 22-1, the Kelly Johnson Joint All-Domain Innovation Center teamed up with industry partners to demonstrate numerous technologies for augmented reality to enhance the multi-capable Airman concept, rapid integration of the Command & Control ecosystem, Synthetic Aperture Radar, Advanced Threat Detection and Visualization and other capabilities.  One of the latest experimental innovation tools, virtual reality goggles, advances the Multi-Capable Airman concept (MCA). The goggles are designed to help prop up the maintenance and logistics tail during forward deployments. The virtual reality goggles link down-range personnel with master maintainers and other support personnel back in garrison. The support team uses VR to help deployed personnel solve logistics and maintenance issues and other problems that may be beyond the deployed personnel’s expertise.     

“None of our training activities could happen without the incredible partnerships the Michigan ANG has with our communities, civil agencies, and business owners across northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula” said Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

“With Northern Agility 22-1, Michigan is moving Agile Combat Employment forward for the U.S. Air Force while integrating technologies from leading-edge companies and industries across the country. It demonstrates that when it comes to bringing that culture of hard work and innovation together for experimentation and development, Michigan is the place to be.”

Michigan’s 17,000 square miles of dedicated military air space, some of which is over portions of Lake Huron, make it an ideal location to conduct a realistic all-domain island defense scenario like NA 22-1. 

“Northern Michigan is one of the best places in the nation to test the agility of our force,” said Brig. Gen. Bryan Teff, assistant adjutant general and Michigan Air National Guard commander. “Michigan is a champion for innovation and we are proud to host the second iteration of the Northern Agility Series,” said Teff.