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McConnell leadership represents mobility forces during 12th Air Force exercise

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Two Airmen from Team McConnell participated in 12th Air Force’s Blue Flag exercise April 17-29 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.


The exercise, which involved more than 900 people, including some from the Army and Navy, demonstrated the warfighting capability of the 12th Air Force. Airmen from several mobility bases, including Col. Phil Heseltine, 22nd Air Refueling Wing vice commander, attended to provide insight into what it takes to support warfighters from a mobility standpoint.


“Blue Flag is a unique opportunity for our leaders [in 12th Air Force] and their supporting staff to train on how they would execute the mission during a major combat operation,” said Lt. Col. Dean Jackson, 12th Air Force operational plans chief. “The most unique part about this exercise is that the leaders are able to train for an integrated air campaign, counter enemy tactics and see the outcome of decisions they’ve made very quickly.”


Normally, the mobility processes during these exercises is simulated, but this time was different. Even though no actual aircraft movement was involved, mobility representatives were there to make it a little more realistic.


“This theater does not have a large presence of tanker resources,” said Heseltine. “What we were able to bring to this fight was to show how much of a game changer having a large force of tanker and mobility assets is for warfighters. What you find is that you can’t do much with fighters and bombers if you do not have the tanker resources to support them.”


Being included during this large-scale exercise has a significant impact on the mission at McConnell.


“The next time we have an exercise here of any iteration, we can apply the lessons learned and the buildups of the phases of contingency operations,” said Heseltine. “So you take this global-level warfighting exercise and you come down and do your localized, base-level exercise, and it gives you a different perspective.”