King Fish ACE – teaching global mobility to Incirlik Airmen

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Seth Stang
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Members of the 728th Air Mobility Squadron took part in the first ever King Fish ACE exercise to occur outside of the continental United States, at Incirlik Air Base, Türkiye Jan. 24 through 25, 2024.

King Fish ACE is a war game designed to show Airmen the capabilities and roles of Air Mobility Command on a global scale against a peer adversary.

Senior Airman Samuel Huffman, 728th Air Mobility Squadron transient aircraft journeyman, explained that the U.S. Air Force boasts the capability to be anywhere around the world in 18 hours. This game demonstrates that capability by setting up simulated forward operating bases (FOB) and using cargo aircraft to supply FOBs in “friendly” nations.

The exercise contained three sections for each team; “Contingency Response Group” (CRG) who organizes the FOBs, “Port”, who creates manifests for aircraft, completely loads them to take their mission set forward to a remote location and evaluates what supplies the home station has, and the “Commander”.

Each team also represents four separate bases (Hickam Hawaii, Anderson Guam, Yokota Japan and Kadena Japan) and their en-routes in the Pacific theater.

One constraint of the exercise is that the CRG and Port cannot talk to each other and must communicate what they have and need directly to the Commander, who then established priorities for each FOB based on their ability to enlist foreign government cooperation, aid requirements and which are the fastest supply chains per their geographic locations.

During the exercise Huffman assisted the game master in flow of play and team’s adherence to the rules. He also provided guidance for team commanders during the event.

As an assistant, he helped progress the game by setting up maps and facilitating requests for information and resources, which helped the commanders decide on what bases they wanted to prioritize.  As an advisor, he helped the commanders make decisions regarding the course of action for setting up their bases and explained what was needed to achieve a fully functioning base.

“As a lower enlisted, this exercise showed me the importance of AMC as a whole,” Huffman said. “From my point of view, I see cargo aircraft land, unload and load cargo then take off. King Fish ACE showed the bigger role of the cargo aircraft in … moving parts, ammunition, and personnel.”

Huffman also remarked that seeing the importance of establishing supply chains and learning about Agile Combat Employment broadened his knowledge on the AMC mission.

He explained that he believes the exercise is a beneficial way to educate Airmen who are going to Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) on the importance of their jobs. Be it maintenance or port, it reiterates the importance of accuracy, and timeliness in operations that could potentially involve peer competition.

Technical Sgt. Iain Luna 728th AMS specialist section chief described challenges faced by players. "When players are establishing FOBs in these areas, they’re not just setting up bases they are grappling with event cards such as conflicts, epidemics, and supply shortages. This exercise helps junior enlisted see the real-world hurdles and decisions commanders must face in theater separated from their usual supply chains and resources."

“The scenarios that can arise during the game are realistic and unexpected such as a member of the command being kidnapped as part of a honey pot scheme or local wildlife overrunning the flight line rendering it unusable,” Luna said. “It may seem a bit funny at times, but the purpose is to present unexpected, realistic scenarios that could potentially derail a mission and to teach the participants how to respond in a safe controlled environment where lives aren’t yet on the line.”

Luna also expressed how beneficial the inclusion of other units such as 39th Security Forces Squadron and Logistics Readiness was. He stated that the ability for them to learn about the AMC mission while stationed at Incirlik will allow them to carry that valuable knowledge forward and see their very real impact on the mission to protect NATOs Southern flank every day.

“King Fish ACE allows career fields that don’t get to see the mission impact every day to truly immerse themselves in what it takes to support global mobility,” Luna said. “We are working to make sure we can show every unit the role they play in mobility and that without their support in their career field these missions couldn’t happen.”

In addition to learning a variety of new mission requirements and methods for maintaining air superiority, Huffman stated that his favorite part of the exercise was watching Airmen navigate potentially unfamiliar situations while gaining a new appreciation for their day-to-day operations.

Lt. Col. Richard Cramer Jr., 728th AMS commander lauded his team for their hard work in making the wargame a success and sharing their expertise with Turkish Air Force personnel.

“We are so proud of our team for taking the initiative to expand the strategic IQ of our Airmen and sharing this program with our host wing partners,” Cramer said.

Members of the 728th AMS are hopeful that even more personnel from the 39th ABW will be able to participate in the next King Fish ACE and learn how they contribute to the Air Force's ever growing need integrate and optimize processes.