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WPC executes milestone Air Force-Army integration exercise

The U.S. Air Forces in Europe Warrior Preparation Center held the first U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army integrated Patriot missile defense exercise at Einsiedlerhof Air Station, Germany, April 12-18.

U.S. Airmen and U.S. Soldiers assigned to the 134th Air Control Squadron and 678th Air Defense Artillery Brigade prepare for exercise Spartan Shield 18-6 at Einsiedlerhof Air Station, Germany April 17, 2018. Members from the 134th ACS make up the control and reporting center, while the 678th ADA members fulfill the air defense artillery fire coordination officer role. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin M. Rumbaugh)

The U.S. Air Forces in Europe Warrior Preparation Center held the first U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army integrated Patriot missile defense exercise at Einsiedlerhof Air Station, Germany, April 12-18.

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 134th Air Control Squadron review information before exercise Spartan Shield 18-6, at Einsiedlerhof Air Station, Germany, April 17, 2018. The 134th ACS is an Air National Guard unit based out of McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin M. Rumbaugh)

EINSIEDLERHOF AIR STATION, Germany -- United States Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa’s Warrior Preparation Center held exercise Spartan Shield 18-6, from April 12-19. 

Spartan Shield was a simulated air and missile defense exercise and included members from the 134th Air Control Squadron, 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, 678th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, and the 5th Battalion 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment.

Army Air Defense Artillery Fire Coordination Officers (ADAFCOs) and U.S. Air Force Control and Reporting Center (CRC) crews trained for five days honing coordination and engagement capabilities in a simulated air and ground fight within the European theater.

“The exercise tested joint Patriot-CRC crew reactions against a range of simulated air and ballistic missile threats,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Rider, WPC Commander. “The new training infrastructure was validated and provided invaluable learning opportunities for all involved. Crews were immersed in a challenging air and missile defense scenario and performed perfectly as a team.”

“ADAFCOs provide de-confliction of the joint operating area airspace and provide protection of geopolitical assets as well as joint and combined air platforms,” said U.S. Army Maj. Blair Tighe, 678th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, South Carolina Army National Guard.

The CRC is responsible for the centralized command and control of the airspace within a given area. It is primarily made up of U.S. Air Force members, and often includes Army ADAFCO personnel who provide the communication bridge between the Army patriot missile batteries and the CRC.

“The rationale for the creation of the ADAFCO was to put a human balance factor in the CRC and Air Operation Center,” said Tighe. “In the past, the ADAFCO role was fulfilled by a computer program, but lessons learned showed a human factor was crucial to the success of safety and security.”

U.S. Air Force Maj. Ryan Jobman, chief of modeling and simulations at the European Integrated Air and Missile Defense Center (EIAMDC), said the exercise was key in standing up a training facility for ADAFCOs within the European and African theaters.

“With this training exercise, we are setting the framework for future missile defense exercises,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Janelle Koch, EIAMDC contributor for Spartan Shield. “We would like to include more lower-tier missile defense into USAFE exercises to enhance the realism and fidelity of the training.”

Approximately nine-months of planning and testing came to fruition through the work of the WPC staff.

"WPC's role is to ensure our warfighter's are ready for any scenario," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Aaron McEwen, WPC operations division chief. "Our newest Spartan capability provides unprecedented, realistic CRC and ADAFCO training to the joint warfighter.”

McEwen and Tighe both said the collaboration produced results they hoped for to be able to prepare tactical warfighters and strengthen relationships in European defense.

“The opportunity to work with the Air Force and provide global security and stability to Europe and the United States is a humbling and exciting role,” said Tighe.

 

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