U.S. Airmen and aircraft from two bases in England recently deployed to Aalborg, Denmark for a two-week, multilateral agile combat employment (ACE) exercise hosted by the Combined Special Operations Air Task Group.
RAF Mildenhall’s 352nd Special Operations Wing contributed at least two MC-130J aircraft, which are used to refuel special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft as well as for resupply, infiltration, and exfiltration missions. An undisclosed number of aircrew, special tactics operations Airmen, and special operations support forces are part of the exercise, 352nd Special Operations Wing spokesperson Capt. Kevyn Lee-Anne Stinett told Air Force Magazine on Nov. 3.
RAF Lakenheath’s 48th Fighter Wing sent four F-15E fighter jets and about 30 aircrew and support personnel from its 494th Fighter Squadron to the training event, Stinett added.
“These forces are exercising rapid deployment and execution of special operations and agile combat employment assets and missions,” she wrote.
Agile combat employment is a budding USAF strategy in which the service can launch operations and sustain aircraft and forces from anywhere in the world, instead of relying on brick-and-mortar bases that could be targeted in a war.
In addition to giving U.S. Air Forces in Europe a chance to practice ACE concepts, Stinett said the training improves the 48th Fighter Wing’s flexibility so it can back up partner militaries in the Baltics.
“The [352nd SOW’s] role in this exercise is to train alongside the Baltic partner nations to enhance the ability of NATO forces to work together effectively and respond to threats from any direction,” she added. “Ready and trained response forces, particularly SOF, are important as both as a deterrence and capability.”
Dutch, Danish, and Belgian forces are also taking part in the exercise, she noted. Exercises like these help foreign militaries sharpen their contingency-response skills as well.