Holloman, joint partners sharpen ACE skills

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Adrian Salazar
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs

Since arriving in Hawaii, Airmen from Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, continue training with the Marine Corps and other Air Force units here during Exercise Agile Combat Employment Reaper.

This two-week, joint exercise is designed to sharpen combat readiness, increase strategic impact and strengthen deterrence efforts by ensuring tactical proficiency of MQ-9 Reaper aircrew. Training exercises like ACE Reaper allow professional militaries to remain combat ready.

“ACE Reaper provides important training for our aircrew, maintainers and support personnel,” said Maj. Adam Smith, Exercise ACE Reaper deputy mission commander. “This helps to develop a flexible mentality in our students that they will carry with them to their operational units.”

There are many learning objectives that Holloman personnel hope to accomplish, including successfully operating in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility, launching MQ-9s and handing them off to CONUS aircrew to conduct training flights, as well as synchronizing efforts between operations, maintenance, and logistics from three MAJCOMs to demonstrate MQ-9 airlift and ferry flight mobility and rapid response capabilities.

“This exercise sends a message to potential adversaries that the U.S. military is capable of responding rapidly to dynamic situations with a range of capabilities at anytime, anywhere in the world,” said Smith.

By expanding the reach of the MQ-9, the amount of opportunities available to the remotely piloted aircraft enterprise is expanded.

“Not only will aircrews from across the enterprise gain valuable knowledge in a new environment, the Navy and Marine Corps will be able to further their operational reach, and together become a more lethal Joint Force,” said Maj. Christopher Scheckel, 16th Training Squadron Marine Corps liaison officer.

The lessons from this exercise will not only help our joint partners but can be used to improve future iterations of ACE operations and will create more flexible Airmen who will bring new skillsets and knowledge back to their squadrons on Holloman.

“This exercise will serve as a stepping stone to future exercises,” said Scheckel. “This iteration will allow us to gain familiarity with the local area, understand our capabilities and limitations, and build relationships with entities based in Hawaii.”

Exercises like ACE Reaper are how the 49th Wing is advancing the Air Force Chief of Staff’s direction to ‘accelerate change or lose’ by leveraging agile combat employment skills to maintain the strategic initiative, present lethal credible combat power with operational unpredictability and ultimately win in conflict.

“In the end, the MQ-9 serves as a means to exercise a capability,” said Smith. “The skills utilized and learned in this exercise can easily be applied across the range of U.S. Air Force missions as well as the future of RPAs.”