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62nd MXG train Airmen for Agile Combat Employment

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Callie Norton
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron conducted a weeklong Agile Combat Employment training here, April 18-22, 2022.

The ACE training is part of a grand and innovative operation in which maintainers at McChord Field do their part to “Accelerate Change or Lose.” It is no secret that adversaries’ warfighting capabilities are growing and advancing, however, maintenance Airmen are up for the challenge.

When U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown Jr. released his “Accelerate Change or Lose” initiative, along with the concepts of Multi-Capable Airmen and ACE, the 62nd AMXS began examining ways to train Airmen to be more precise and efficient.

“Within the squadron, we are trying to seek solutions within our scope of capability,” said Royal Canadian Air Force Maj. Daniel Bortolin, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron director of operations and project sponsor of the ACE team. “We hope to be able to share this with the rest of the maintenance group and potentially the rest of the C-17 community.”

Thus, the ACE Team was born. Six maintenance Air Force Specialty Codes are combined into two different categories: mechanics and technicians. Mechanics will be responsible for maintaining mechanical systems like hydraulics, engines and airframes. The technicians will oversee the avionics systems like radios, navigation and auto-pilot.

“The goal is to expand on the mechs and techs and provide additional training for different specialties to work other functions outside their scope, we will have a greater capacity to perform maintenance on the flight line,” Bortolin said.

Traditionally, deployments have a full maintenance package, which consists of 23 maintenance personnel, two senior non-commissioned officers in charge, one officer in charge and three pallets of aircraft parts and tools. 

“Our team intends to reduce [this] to 13 maintainers and one pallet for parts and equipment,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Stevenson, project coordinator for ACE, 62nd AMXS. “With the highest ranking maintainer being a technical sergeant.”

During a two-year analysis of high-break items, 62nd AMXS discovered additional ways to consolidate to optimize every mission.

“For the upcoming Exercise Swift Response, we’re going to fill up one conex with all those high break items instead of bringing a typical three-pack,” Stevenson said. “That will increase space on the aircraft, which will allow Army personnel to have more paratroopers in order to support their mission as well.” 

By minimizing the footprint on the jet, the team will be better equipped to handle any humanitarian, cargo or airdrop mission forcefully from any potential austere location.

“We’re focusing on building that small, lean team, capable of performing 80 percent of the tasks that we would expect to occur,” Bortolin said. “With that, we accept a little bit of risk while making ourselves more efficient and effective in our operation”

Not only will ACE streamline the maintenance career field, it will empower the greatest resource the Air Force holds: its Airmen.

“There’s already a natural progression that we see with our maintainers as they advance in rank,”Bortolin said. “In this case here, you’re going to see five-levels and seven-levels immediately open their perspective to what else is happening on the flightline versus staying within their own shops.” 

Expanding on cross utilization training within the squadron creates an all encompassing view of aircraft maintenance that can be beneficial to the entire C-17 force.  

“If McChord is able to prove this is highly successful for us and our C-17 operations, we can work with higher headquarters to provide data and substantiation,” Bortolin said, “With that, perhaps there could be additional changes to occur across the maintenance community Air Force wide.”