News Search

317th AW completes ACE, Covert Yeti exercise

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. David Owsianka
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Airmen with the 317th Airlift Wing participated in Exercise Covert Yeti in Arizona, Colorado and Utah on Dec. 5, 2021. The training tested the Airmen’s abilities to use Agile Combat Employment tactics, techniques and procedures in preparation to respond to a conflict anytime, anywhere.

The Covert Yeti exercise is the next step in the evolution of ACE experiment where aircrew members are given mission type orders to complete generic objective in various locations. While en route, based on the simulated evolution of war, the aircrew will make decisions as formation leads as to where they are going to move the cargo to provide support for a mission.

“It’s important for us to conduct this training because for years we’ve been operating in very low intensity conflicts and we’ve been able to have very large bases to operate out of,” said Maj. Darshan Subramanian, 317th AW wing commander action group chief and evaluator pilot. “When we look at some of our near peer adversaries, they have the ability to strike some of our main centers of gravity, so we have to be able to operate not only in a distributed manner but we have to be able to communicate at the lowest level and we have to be able to complicate our adversaries targeting solution."

As the aircrews landed at various locations from their point of origin, the flying crew chiefs, who became qualified forklift operators, offloaded cargo alongside their loadmaster counterparts to validate the personnel’s ability to become well-rounded Mission Capable Airmen.

“We are validating that we can carry our own FCCs and they can also operate a forklift so we don’t need to have more Airmen who are potentially vulnerable to an attack,” Subramanian said. “If we can have one Airman complete multiple jobs, we cut down on the amount of people that we expose in a vulnerable area.”

Upon completion of this training, each aircrew underwent a launch to survive situations in which they will have to utilize crew resource management as a formation to safely egress the airfield that is under attack before rejoining the formation in flight forcing them to maintain that datalink situational awareness to return to Dyess.

“Being tasked with new employment opportunities, like this, that align with the National Defense Strategy improves our capabilities and prepares us to employ these tactics if needed in the future,” said Tech. Sgt. David Golden 39th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. “When we utilize new concepts it helps us adjust training, learn new tactics and build upon it even further.”

Members of the 317th AW were also tested on their ability to complete dynamic mission execution.

The aircrew received in-flight injects on how the simulated war was progressing and it forced the crews to make real-time decisions on where they’re going to shift their cargo across multiple states based on the received information.

“This tested their abilities to make decisions that would normally be made at higher levels,” Subramanian said. “This also forces them to utilize all levels of beyond the line of site, whether it’s using tactical data link, a satellite radio or a high frequency radio to keep track of each other despite being thousands of miles away. It’s a skill that we will need if we are going to use it in real life.”

As the 317th AW continues to complete training and real-world missions, none of it could be done without the assistance of the 7th Bomb Wing mission support personnel. Members of the 7th Logistics Readiness Squadron provided forklifts and training on the forklifts for the maintainers.

“Receiving help from our fellow Airmen in the bomb wing is great because it helps get everyone on the same page,” Golden said. “This shows our commitment toward the common goal of getting the mission done, and it shows how we are a unified team.”

ACE is focused on quickly dispersing smaller contingents of multi-capable Airmen to remote bases to increase the U.S. Air Force’s flexibility and to make targeting U.S. forces in a high-end fight more difficult for adversaries.

“The exercise has given us some great information on our ability to execute distributed command and control,” Subramanian said. “Completing training like this also provides us with the ability to improve our skillsets when we participate in other ACE exercises and it helps us use our full spectrum readiness plan to find areas to focus on to develop our Airmen to be able to handle the next fight.”