First McChord deployment with new AFFORGEN model

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Colleen Anthony
  • 62d Airlift Wing

Members of the 62d Airlift Wing said their goodbyes to friends and families before deploying in support  of U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command, and U.S. Africa Command operations Sept. 26-27, 2022. This deployment is McChord’s first implementation of the new Air Force Force Generation model.

The new AFFORGEN model aims to reconstitute Air Mobility Command’s manpower, aircraft, and equipment into force elements that train, deploy, and recover as cohesive units throughout each phase of the cycle. The former model used a crowdsourcing method that often meant deploying individual Airmen separate from their teams, on short notice.

“The six-month deployment cycles are not new to AMC; however, this will be the first iteration for the C-17 community,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Nicholas Disney, commander of the 8th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. “AFFORGEN is in direct correlation with the Agile Combat Employment concept that we can go anywhere anytime in support of any geographic combatant command … and very much aligns the C-17 community more closely with the rest of the Air Force’s deployment model.”

Within the new model are four distinct phases: reset, prepare, ready, and available to commit. Phase one, reset, gives time for Airmen to reintegrate with families, recoup, take post-deployment leave and get back to basic proficiency. Phase two, prepare, gives the squadron the opportunity to enhance unit proficiency by completing advanced upgrade training and completing a certification event that integrates operations support agencies and joint partners.

“We executed our AFFORGEN certification event, Rainier War 22A, with 161 Airmen ... split between two geographically separated locations and spent 10 days employing operations in a high intensity, contested, degraded, and operationally limited environment,” said Senior Master Sgt. Ryan Stark, superintendent of the 8th Airlift Squadron.

These events validated the squadrons resourcefulness, experience, and capability to perform the tasks required in the ready and available phases, said Disney.

Phase three, ready, entails Airmen work to achieve a level of readiness above the unit level for the high-end fight environment. Units come together from multiple wings to train and complete certifying events. Now, in the fourth and final phase, McChord Airmen are, available to commit, identifying them as a deployable unit with fully resourced force elements, certified and ready to conduct combat operations.

“It’s always tough being the first one to do something, but our Airmen are prepared, focused, and ready,” said Stark. “There’s no doubt this will be successful, and that they’re the right folks to take on the 62d AW’s first AFFORGEN deployment.” 

Throughout the phases of the AFFORGEN model, 62d AW Airmen improved manning and equipment deficiencies and certified training and validation processes while employing ACE concepts internally.

“Today, the Air Force is changing, and while it might be doing so slowly, it is for the better,” said Disney. “This new deployment model will bring challenges and changes that will demand a lot as we find the rhythm and settle in.”

The switch from the previous Air Expeditionary Force Generation model to AFFORGEN is key to analyzing and adapting to our Total Force Readiness, force generation capacity, and the impacts of both long and short-term surge requirements.

“There is still much work to be done,” said Disney. “There will be mistakes along the way and we may stumble at times, but I believe unequivocally that we are going to absolutely dominate every challenge that comes our way”