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33rd FW advances ACE through multi-capable Airmen

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Amber Litteral
  • 33rd Fighter Wing

Airmen with the 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 33rd Maintenance Squadron, 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, are conducting remote training, July 9-29, to exercise the Agile Combat Employment concept. 
With new threats in warfare and its domains, the U.S. Air Force is pushing to enhance its capabilities with methods such as the Agile Combat Employment, a concept unveiled alongside U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr.’s initiative of “Accelerate, Change, or Lose.”

The ACE concept focuses on enabling Airmen within various career fields to execute operations from any location at a faster and more proficient complexity. 
At the tactical level, the Air Force demonstrates an initial ability to bring ACE to the battlespace by focusing on developing multi-capable Airmen.

The 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, reflects this concept by providing training opportunities for Airmen to learn and perform additional duties in preparation for the deployment and maneuvering of assets during a crisis or conflict.

“On any given day, I may work both my primary and secondary duties,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Zimmerman, a weapons team chief with the 60th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, 33rd FW. “Sometimes I need to expedite for weapons or set up programs, but if they need me on the flight line, I’m assigned an aircraft that I’m in charge of the rest of the day.”

Zimmerman is one of many Nomads within the 33rd Maintenance Group trained to perform duties in adjacent fields like low observable maintenance and aircraft launch and recovery, giving the 33rd FW an advantage.

“The benefit of enabling multi-capable Airmen in the 33rd FW, is that we have two different squadrons, AMXS and MXS, coming together to teach each other different technical skillsets and ultimately drive efficiency in training and contested environments,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Lindsey Christopherson, commander of the 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “Our priority of developing MCA brings us together to enable ACE concepts at home and on the road. We've deliberately taken advantage of our time in Vermont to showcase these cross-functional capabilities and to reinforce our wing's mission of training and transforming combat-credible Airmen."

Currently, Nomads are conducting training operations in Vermont to avoid Florida's seasonal weather delays and air traffic due to flight line construction. These multi-capable Airmen are executing operations and continuing to practice ACE up north.

“Here in Vermont, I am working with weapons and have also been assigned my own jet to launch and recover,” said Zimmerman. “Four aircraft are covered by personnel whose primary duties aren’t flight line operations.”

With additional career fields covering the line, experienced crew chiefs have more time to do necessary maintenance before and between takeoffs, expediting flying and maintenance operations with less personnel in a combat or contested environment.

“By exercising this ACE concept, we can use non-conventional crew chief personnel in roles such as marshaling aircraft, towing, performing pre- and post-flight inspections, changing tires and more,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Morgan Higdon, officer in charge of the 60th AMU. “Furthermore, our avionics, crew chiefs, fuels and egress personnel are being used to improve the low observable stealth technology that this fifth-generation fighter provides to the war-fighting efforts.”

In an ever-evolving world, multi-capable Airmen of the 33rd FW will advance ACE to accelerate readiness, tactical expertise and the ability to compete and win.
“With 95 maintenance and support personnel working together in this effort,” said Higdon. “We can train and upgrade some of the world's finest fighter pilots."