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114th Fighter Wing conducts 2021 Readiness Exercise

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Mikayla Wilson, crew chief, 114th Aircraft Maintenance, South Dakota National Guard, goes through launch procedures during the readiness exercise Aug. 9, 2021, at Joe Foss Field, S.D. The readiness exercise is designed to enhance the warfighter ethos of mission-type orders, independent decision making, and risk management at the lowest competent level by testing the 114th Fighter Wing’s ability to set up an alert sight and generate combat airpower on short notice. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Duane Duimstra)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Mikayla Wilson, crew chief, 114th Aircraft Maintenance, South Dakota National Guard, goes through launch procedures during the readiness exercise Aug. 9, 2021, at Joe Foss Field, S.D. The readiness exercise is designed to enhance the warfighter ethos of mission-type orders, independent decision making, and risk management at the lowest competent level by testing the 114th Fighter Wing’s ability to set up an alert sight and generate combat airpower on short notice. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Duane Duimstra)

SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota -- The 114th Fighter Wing executed a unique two-week Readiness Exercise (RE) that tested their ability to stand up an Aerospace Control Alert (ACA) sight, test Agile Combat Employment (ACE) skills on short notice, and facilitate Multi-Capable Airmen (MCA) training at Joe Foss Field, S.D. and the surrounding area from Aug. 3-13, 2021.

“We're looking for a way to build better Airmen each and every day,” said Col. Mark Morrell, 114th Fighter Wing commander. “So the two week Readiness Exercise helps us focus on dynamic environments and problem solving for our Airmen at the very lowest level and also helps to build their foundational skills in basic weapons, basic emergency medicine survivability, as well as a broader category of possessing the ability to survive and operate in all environments.”

In part one of the RE, the 114FW stood up ACA sites that operated 24/7 at Joe Foss Field and surrounding areas to evaluate their ability to defend the mid-section of North America on short notice and to test ACE skills with realistic combat scenarios to train for current and future contingencies. The concept of ACE is having the ability to deploy with minimal equipment and Airmen to accomplish the flying mission.

“By the end of this exercise, we will have a strong mental picture of what it looks like to stand up an alert site here in Sioux Falls, which certainly increases our readiness to defend our homeland,” said Lt. Col. Karl Palmberg, 114th Operations Group deputy commander and 2021 Readiness Exercise planner. “It’s been very beneficial to get the training in for the primary mission as well as bolster our capabilities here at home.”

In part two of the RE, the 114th FW challenged Airmen to step outside their comfort zones and complete MCA training on tasks outside of their normal jobs through Warrior Breakout Sessions. These sessions consisted of numerous classes ranging from hand-to-hand combat to aircraft recovery and maintenance familiarization to Tactical Combat Casualty Care, among others. Many of these sessions were taught by combat readiness instructors from Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.

“I think that the nature of warfare in the future is likely to be very unpredictable,” said Morrell. “It’s likely to be in austere locations, and it’s likely to require Airmen to make their own risk management decisions in order to accomplish the mission. This MCA training gives our Airmen an increased warrior ethos so they can feel confident they can handle themselves mentally and physically, as well as professionally in any sort of environment, peacetime or in combat.”

Currently there is a push within the Air Force to transition our Airmen from being focused solely on their primary jobs to building multi-functional mission essential skills so Airmen are able to jump into the fight no matter where it is.

“We are committed to building the most ready and resilient force that we can,” said Morrell, “and part of that is building people who can deal with unpredictable and dynamic environments and problem solve quickly and confidently.”

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