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Operation Titan Haymaker readies Laughlin Airmen for ACE, future deployments

  • Published
  • By Capt. Christine Del Aguila
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

The 47th Flying Training Wing conducted Operation Titan Haymaker, a large-scale exercise, May 23, 2024, to familiarize first-term enlisted Airmen and Company Grade Officers on what to expect in an austere deployed environment. The exercise employed Agile Combat Employment (ACE) elements into the objectives. 

“We were able to generate an exercise that will benefit our first term airmen and first term officers who have never deployed,” said Lt. Col. John Casey, 47th Civil Engineer Squadron Commander. "The first time you experience ACE doesn’t need to be as you’re headed out the door to deploy.”  

Over 52 Airmen participated in the event at Spofford Auxiliary Airfield, 45 minutes away from Laughlin AFB, near Brackettville, Texas. 

“We had young airmen out there who had never deployed or done a training like this,” said Capt. Tabatha Herzig, Operation Titan Haymaker Mission Commander, 47th Civil Engineer Squadron. "We had them putting up tents for the first time and introduced joint functions from across the force and why they’re important.”  

The exercise simulated an aircraft mishap in a deployed environment. According to the 47th Mission Support Group, the last exercise of this scale for Laughlin took place Summer 2011. 

“Many months of planning went into Titan Haymaker to show Laughlin is fully capable to conduct Wing exercises at our Auxiliary Airfield, transport equipment anywhere in the region, and demonstrate Hub and Spoke ACE operations,” said 1st Lt. Ryan Pfanstiel, Operation Titan Haymaker team lead, 47th Civil Engineer Squadron. 

The planning team leveraged partnerships with Davis Monthan Air Force Base for training assets, and Joint Base San Antonio provided logistics support. The exercise implemented and tested command and control capabilities, trained airmen on multiple mission sets, readying them for real-world deployments. 

“I think this was a good way to get prepared for deployment with everything that’s going on around the world, this is an opportunity to stay ready for it,” said Senior Airman Natalie Bait, 47th Force Support Squadron force management supervisor.  

Additionally, the training events outlined by the Operation Titan Haymaker planning team demonstrated the capability to prepare airmen in Mission Ready Airman (MRA) and ACE concepts. 

“Most of these young airmen are between 18-24, and it’s good to see them engaged and doing something meaningful,” said Sgt. Albert Hernandez, Religious Affairs assistant, Ohio Army National Guard. “With this training, you can tell the Air Force puts people first and is good at building relationships with external agencies.” 

The goal of the 47th FTW is to make this exercise a more frequent occurrence, incorporate Ready Airman Training (RAT) and expand to a potential multi-day exercise.