130th Airlift Wing practices ACE during FLARE 2023

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Alexis Farmer
  • 130th Airlift Wing

More than 400 personnel from the 130th Airlift Wing descended on Gulfport, Mississippi’s Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC), on March 27, 2023, for a weeklong Fly Away Readiness Exercise (FLARE).

FLARE is a commander directed readiness exercise designed to demonstrate the units’ ability to deploy using the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) model. ACE is a scheme of maneuver and a way of generating, projecting, sustaining, and preserving air power that shifts operations from large, centralized, and often vulnerable infrastructures to networks of smaller-footprint dispersed locations to increase force survivability, complicate adversary planning, and provide more options to joint force commanders for power projection.

FLARE 2023 will mark the unit’s first large-scale fly away exercise since converting to the C-130J model. In 2020, the 130th Airlift Wing was selected by the United States Air Force to receive eight C-130J-30 Super Hercules aircraft and transition aircrew, maintenance, and support personnel from the 1990s era H3-model to the new J-model.

"This is our first opportunity to demonstrate our readiness level as a wing since we converted to the J-model," said Col. Bryan Preece, commander of the 130th Airlift Wing. "This exercise is essential to our readiness, and we look forward to seeing the results. Our unit motto, 'Ready To Go!', is the perfect sentiment to live by as we prepare for the future fight."

The unit received hands-on experience in command & control, nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological, tactical combat casualty care, and career-field specific tasks. The exercise is intended to further a unit's readiness not only in the physical sense but also in the mental sense by testing the airmen's understanding of wartime principles against a simulated near peer adversary.

“This is something that we’ve been planning for over two years now by having monthly exercises at the wing doing practical drills, individual training and the CBRN defense course, and it’s really helped us prepare for something like this,” said Senior Master Sergeant Philip Meeks. “As the Emergency Operations Center Manager, I couldn’t be happier or prouder of the way that we were able to operate during this exercise.”

The exercise was conducted in a simulated deployed austere environment, allowing for a more realistic training experience for the Airmen. The exercise results will inform commanders of their unit's ability to generate, employ, and sustain combat capability in the future.