SUNSET BEACH, Ore. - For the past month, Airmen from the Western Air Defense Sector’s 225th Air Defense Squadron have been innovating mobile tactical command and control planning and exercises to inch closer to a vision of agile combat employment to protect the homeland.
On Apr. 25, they continued testing a unique concept that integrates rapidly deployable communications capabilities to create agility in a theater at the top of the National Defense Strategy’s goals sheet — the homeland.
By bringing together multi-capable Airmen and agile combat employment, the Airmen of the 225th Air Defense Squadron — radio call sign “Bigfoot” — demonstrated rapidly deployable Theater Air Control System capabilities that provide resilience and continuity of operations.
“We are integrating communications and battlespace awareness equipment so that we will ultimately keep Bigfoot on station no matter what comes our way through command and control,” said 2nd Lt. Tyler Shoemaker, 225th Air Defense Squadron air battle manager. “We want to offer maximum C2 capabilities possible while mobile ... operating well inside any adversary’s OODA loop and executing the mission anywhere, anytime the commander needs us to.”
The OODA loop (observe, orient, decide, act) is a four-step approach to making decisions that focuses on filtering available information, putting it in context and quickly making the most appropriate decision while understanding that changes can be made as more data becomes available.
The demonstration involved a rapid deployment to Sunset Beach in Oregon to set up line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight communications coupled with a mesh network sensor grid to act as an extension of the Western Air Defense Sector in a remote environment.
Three 225th Air Defense Squadron Airmen set up as a Battle Management Team focused on rapid mobility and mission-type orders that allowed them to be an adaptive extension of the Theater Air Control System.
The exercise involved F-15C fighters from the 142d Fighter Wing, Oregon Air National Guard, that were seamlessly controlled and managed across the Western Air Defense Sector at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state and the forward operating Battle Management Team at Sunset Beach.
They demonstrated the Western Air Defense Sector can conduct tactical C2 functions, execute mission orders and close kill chains if operating bases are compromised while making operations more agile in a degraded combat environment.
“Being mobile is critical to make us more dynamic and survivable against enemy threats,” said 1st Lt. Aaron DeCremer, 225th Air Defense Squadron air battle manager. “It means we are able to disperse our capabilities and continue fighting against any adversary on any terrain.”
The 225th Air Defense Squadron’s ACE demonstration is the Western Air Defense Sector’s response to the Department of Defense’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control policy and the Air Force chief of staff’s imperative to operationalize Advanced Battle Management Systems.
One of the Air Force’s top priorities, figuring out how to conduct adaptive operations in a contested environment, is an essential component of the warfighting effort.
“The Western Air Defense Sector sees itself in the core task of defending the United States in a tangible way,” said Col. Antony Braun, 225th Air Defense Squadron commander. “This involves acknowledging that future conflicts against near-peer adversaries will require fast action and even faster decisions.
“Ensuring access to the situational awareness required to close kill chains is essential,“ he said. “Our Airmen got out there and innovated an adaptive battle plan and assured mission accomplishment. This is exactly the kind of innovation that we need to get after ... faster, flexible air superiority.”
Synchronizing battle management across the Theater Air Control System involves agile communication platforms and improved battlespace awareness tools.
“Agility like we demonstrated at Sunset Beach is critical for making policy operational,” said Braun. “We will continue to pursue mobility, agility and flexibility with our goal to establish air superiority anytime, anywhere the air component needs it.”