By Tech. Sgt. Jayson Burns, 435 Air Expeditionary Wing
Various U.S. units under Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, or CJTF-HOA, and the 449th Air Expeditionary Group pooled their resources to conduct the first simulated joint branch Forward Arming and Refueling Point, or FARP, exercise on the African continent, Feb. 22.
A FARP is defined as a location outside of established military installations that allows aircraft to quickly refuel and rearm. In a complex and dynamic environment such as eastern Africa, the exercise demonstrates a readiness to respond to any crisis or challenge as a reliable global partner. The FARP mission enables aircraft supporting combat operations to refuel much closer to their area of operation, saving a significant amount of time.
"CJTF-HOA is tasked with responding to U.S. embassies during times of crisis and is the preferred option for all of Africa as the only response force on continent. Unfortunately, the tyranny of distance is our greatest enemy," said Maj. Malcolm Strong, CJTF-HOA CJ-32 chief of air operations. "This exercise is not only demonstrating the proactive use of Agile Combat Employment but driving requirements to leverage ACE concepts for crisis response."
ACE concepts extend the range for aircraft operations from several hundred miles from its launch and recovery element to continent wide and increase endurance to provide critical information to the geographical and functional commands. The utilization of ACE concepts also improves interoperability among the joint force and helps allies and partner nations increase their own capabilities.
The recent exercise conducted between Camp Lemonnier and Chabelley Airfield involved a U.S. Marine Corps KC-130J Super Hercules, security forces from the U.S. Army, and an MQ-9 airframe from the U.S. Air Force.
The ability of a joint force commander to move their forces fluidly across the theater to seize, retain and utilize initiatives against an adversary is key to ensuring readiness and resilience, and protecting assets and personnel. Utilizing ACE concepts in less-than-optimal environments improves the interoperability among U.S. and ally forces, creating the greatest possible opportunity for a long-term advancement of combined interests.