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Holloman, joint partners sharpen ACE skills

Staff Sgt. Nick Licata 432 aircraft communications maintenance squadron ground control station supervisor, configures a containerized dual control segment during exercise agile combat employment reaper, Sept. 9, 2021, on Marine Corps Base, Hawaii. Exercise ACE Reaper aims to rapidly mobilize Airmen and MQ-9 assets to unconfigured locations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Adrian Salazar)

Staff Sgt. Nick Licata 432 aircraft communications maintenance squadron ground control station supervisor, configures a containerized dual control segment during exercise agile combat employment reaper, Sept. 9, 2021, on Marine Corps Base, Hawaii. Exercise ACE Reaper aims to rapidly mobilize Airmen and MQ-9 assets to unconfigured locations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Adrian Salazar)

Staff Sgt. Byron Hayes, 432 Aircraft Communications Maintenance squadron MQ-9 ground control station supervisor, and Staff Sgt. Nick Licata 432 ACMS GCS supervisor, put together a piece of ground data terminal Sept. 9, 2021, on Marine Corps Base, Hawaii. The GDT is part of a system used to control the MQ-9. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Adrian Salazar)

Staff Sgt. Byron Hayes, 432 Aircraft Communications Maintenance squadron MQ-9 ground control station supervisor, and Staff Sgt. Nick Licata 432 ACMS GCS supervisor, put together a piece of ground data terminal Sept. 9, 2021, on Marine Corps Base, Hawaii. The GDT is part of a system used to control the MQ-9. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Adrian Salazar)

ACE Reaper Airmen begin set up of a containerized dual control segment Sept. 9, 2021, on Marine Corps Base, Hawaii. The CDCS was provided by the Air Force special operations command out of Cannon AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Adrian Salazar)

ACE Reaper Airmen begin set up of a containerized dual control segment Sept. 9, 2021, on Marine Corps Base, Hawaii. The CDCS was provided by the Air Force special operations command out of Cannon AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Adrian Salazar)

A1C Jason Swan 49 Aircraft maintenance squadron ground control station technician Sept. 9, 2021 on Marine Corps Base, Hawaii. The equipment is disassembled to transport via airlift and then reassembled at the operating location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Adrian Salazar)

A1C Jason Swan 49 Aircraft maintenance squadron ground control station technician Sept. 9, 2021 on Marine Corps Base, Hawaii. The equipment is disassembled to transport via airlift and then reassembled at the operating location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Adrian Salazar)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, NM --

MARINE CORPS BASE, Hawaii – Since arriving in Hawaii, Airmen from Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, continue training with the Marine Corps and other Air Force units here during exercise Agile Combat Employment Reaper.

This two-week joint exercise is designed to sharpen combat readiness, increase strategic impact, and strengthen deterrence efforts by ensuring tactical proficiency of MQ-9 Reaper aircrew. Training exercises like ACE Reaper allow professional militaries to remain combat ready.

“ACE Reaper provides important training for our aircrew, maintainers, and support personnel,” said Maj. Adam Smith, ACE Reaper mission deputy commander. “This helps to develop a flexible mentality in our students that they will carry with them to their operational units.”

There are many learning objectives that Holloman personnel hope to accomplish, including successfully operating in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility, launching MQ-9s and handing them off to CONUS aircrew to conduct training flights, as well as synchronizing efforts between operations, maintenance, and logistics from three MAJCOMs to demonstrate MQ-9 airlift and ferry flight mobility and rapid response capabilities.

“This exercise sends a message to our adversaries that the U.S. military is capable of responding rapidly to dynamic situations with a range of capabilities at anytime, anywhere in the world,” said Smith.

By expanding the reach of the MQ-9 we also expand the amount of opportunities available to the remotely piloted aircraft enterprise.

“Not only will aircrews from across the enterprise gain valuable knowledge in a new environment, the Navy and Marine Corps will be able to further their operational reach, and together become a more lethal Joint Force,” said Maj. Christopher Scheckel, 16th Training Squadron Marine liaison officer.

The lessons from this exercise will not only help our joint partners but can be used to improve future iterations of ACE operations and will create more flexible Airmen who will bring new skillsets and knowledge back to their squadrons on Holloman.

“This exercise will serve as a stepping stone to future exercises,” said Scheckel. “This iteration will allow us to gain familiarity with the local area, understand our capabilities and limitations, and build relationships with entities based in Hawaii.”

Exercises like ACE Reaper is how the 49th Wing is advancing the Air Force Chief of Staff’s direction to ‘accelerate change or lose’ by leveraging agile combat employment skills to maintain the strategic initiative, present lethal credible combat power with operational unpredictability and ultimately win in conflict.

“In the end, the MQ-9 serves as a means to exercise a capability,” said Smith. “The skills utilized and learned in this exercise can easily be applied across the range of U.S. Air Force missions as well as the future of RPAs.”

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