Military News

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Challenge accepted: USAFE-AFAFRICA supports 4-COCOM exercise

by Staff Sgt. Jessica Hines

3/25/2015 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa command staff members stepped up last week to the challenge of supporting four Unified Combatant Commands' large-scale defense exercises, aimed at training members and improving regional response capabilities.

The four globally positioned COCOM exercises included U.S. European Command's Austere Challenge 2015, U.S. Africa Command's Judicious Response 2015, U.S. Strategic Command's Global Lightning 2015 and U.S. Transportation Command's Turbo Challenge 2015.

While the exercise objectives were not new, the synchronized efforts gave new breath to bolstering inter-service approaches to the ever-changing military challenges of today's world.

"We are always moving forward, learning and improving our processes. This exercise is no different in that endeavor, however, it is unique," said Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force commander.

"By combining our efforts across these commands, we have intentionally turned up the heat on ourselves to identify seams or cracks in our efforts to provide the best land, air and sea defense capabilities our allies deserve."

The computer-based command post simulations ranging from combat responses to humanitarian assistance across various regions provided real-time, emergency response scenarios to battle staff commanders and subject matter experts. As a result of the numerous scenarios, commanders and staff had to make deliberate and calculated decisions as to how to meet the mission with limited assets from the Air Force, Army, Navy or Marine Corps.

"We live in a very dynamic and evolving world, where it seems there is always more than one emergency taking place," said Roberson. "We need to better understand how to best provide the most comprehensive support when our forces are pulled in different directions."

In order to support the 24/7 work demands during the two week event, nearly 350 augmentees were brought in to work alongside 3rd AF and USAFE-AFAFRICA headquarters staff. Ultimately, the exercise not only helped improve internal processes, but served to train the next generation of service members for the potential challenges ahead.

"We are very grateful for all of the augmentees, reservists, active duty and civilian counterparts who helped make this possible," said Roberson. "This is a great opportunity for those who have seen their fair share of exercises to mentor and prepare our younger Airmen who will eventually become tomorrow's leaders. I encourage each and every one who is a part of this to ask questions, challenge processes, take notes and channel those up your chain of command.  That's where true innovation comes from and that's how we will continue to improve."

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