Story by Staff Sgt. Natalie Rubenak
As dust swirled in the air, the aircraft made its descent, casting an ominous shadow on the dirt. The sound of the helicopter roared through the field as the sun beamed down. One by one, Soldiers exited the aircraft, stealthily but hurried. With rifles in hand, the green berets made their way to their next objective, infiltrating the shoot-house.
Defenders from the 50th Security Forces Squadron partnered with a tier 1 NATO mission partner, the 21st SFS, the 90th Security Forces Group, and Special Operations Forces Soldiers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) to conduct a helicopter assault force training exercise at Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado, Oct. 19, 2023.
“This type of interoperability, and the tactics we were able to work on with all entities, is vital to being effective in a combat or active shooter situation,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Dayne Foote, 50th SFS commander. “It creates new points of view, shares best practices and ultimately increases the lethality of America’s warriors.”
The 50th SFS is actualizing the Agile Combat Employment construct, which emphasizes the flexibility and resiliency that Airmen need for modern conflict. With ACE, bases can rapidly deploy a team of multi-capable Airmen and Guardians to an austere environment, nesting them with another wing. One way that logistical supplies and personnel are transported to ACE mission locations is by helicopter.
“To begin training for ACE operations, Schriever needed to designate locations on the installation that are able to support assault training,” said Tech. Sgt. Kimball Butler, 50th SFS chief of weapons and tactics. “While preparing the helicopter landing zones, the 10th SFG approached the 50th SFS to discuss a training opportunity they were interested in performing on the installation.”
After several months of preparation, everything was coming to fruition, and it was time to see all the hard work play out. Four units from four different installations joined together and demonstrated interoperability while perpetuating the lethality of two mission partners.
During the exercise, SOF and NATO partners conducted an air assault infiltration and exfiltration while also conducting a raid on the objective, the SSFB shoot house.
An exercise of this caliber could have the potential to implement ACE training opportunities at every installation, even ones that traditionally don’t support aircraft.
“The importance of what took place today is astronomical,” Butler said. “Schriever Space Force Base directly enabled a joint operation between two specialized groups that will inevitably save lives while in combat.”