LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --
The 61st Airlift Squadron, along with Airmen from the 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 19th Operations Support Squadron and the 41st AS will integrate with units from Yokota, Kadena and Misawa Air Bases in Japan, and Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea for a full spectrum readiness operation in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s area of responsibility during their 4/12 FSR Capstone Feb. 5-25, 2020.
In 2019 the new 4/12 deployment initiative was coordinated among airlift squadrons from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas and Little Rock AFB, allowing each squadron to rotate on deployments for four months followed by 12 months of dwell time. While one squadron is fulfilling their rotational deployment, the other three will be focused on sharpening readiness, allowing more time to train for tomorrow’s fight.
“This capstone exercise culminates the past 12 months where we actively use the training and tactics we acquired,” said Capt. Greg Hollen, 61st AS pilot.
The 61st AS returned in May, 2019, marking the first C-130J squadron in the past 18 years to have an entire year of dwell time, beginning the cycle for the four squadrons.
The 12 months of dwell time allows nine months to focus on core mission objectives, and three months of deployment specific training.
“Since the new national defense strategy came out two years ago, we’ve been training on a number of different tactics we use all around Arkansas, while simulating different regions of the world,” Hollen said.
This capstone and Agile Combat Employment exercise provides a unique training opportunity while exposing 19th AW personnel to the Indo-PACOM AOR.
“The end goal is to flatten the learning curve so if we were to deploy short-notice, it wouldn’t be a shock,” Hollen said. “Right now about 10 to 20 percent of Airmen in the squadron have flown in that part of the world – through this exercise, we’re going to increase that to nearly 70 percent.”
The exercise involves various types of training, including distributed operations, agile combat employment, Combat Air Force integration, degraded command and control operations, and executing mission type orders.
“In the end, the purpose of this exercise is to validate training and allow members to adapt to a new environment,” Hollen said. “Mission type orders allow us to give a crew a mission for the day and have them work with the user directly and figure it out with little to no oversite – improving their overall readiness.”